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Accidentally Honored: Michigan Drivers Named Safest in America!

Accidentally Honored: Michigan Drivers Named Safest in America!

When you’re creeping along the Lodge Freeway on your way to work, cursing stop-and-go traffic caused by an accident… or trudging on I-75 for a weekend getaway Up North, avoiding legions of aggressive drivers… you may not expect the shocking fact we’re about to reveal:  Michigan motorists are the least accident-prone in the nation! Yes, it’s true — at least according to recently published data from Insurify, a firm that matches drivers with automobile insurance providers.

In fact, the study praises Michigan for having less than half the national average of drivers who’ve been found at fault for a car accident (just over 6 percent, compared to 12.45 percent nationally). Whether that’s thanks to our state’s unique no-fault insurance laws, or the result of some other fortunate, cosmic circumstance isn’t clear from the data… but we’ll take it! (And, for the record, the score for our friendly neighbors to the south is over 15 percent… placing drivers in the Buckeye State the 7th most accident-prone in the nation. Take care when driving in Ohio!)

But don’t rest on your laurels, Michiganders! We may be less likely to have accidents in general, but we’re still seeing more than our share of fatal traffic accidents, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For reasons unknown, Michigan highway deaths have risen since the pandemic started, even though the total number of miles driven have fallen in the state. Indeed, the Detroit News recently reported that nearly 1,100 traffic fatalities were recorded in 2020 — 10 percent higher than the previous year — despite 20 percent fewer drivers on the road.

As you may expect, with less road travel, there should be a corresponding reduction in accidents, which is exactly what happened. Furthermore, injuries also significantly dropped. Yet we still witnessed that inexplicable 10 percent increase in traffic-related deaths. Why? Did the empty roads give people a false sense of security? Or perhaps people felt more comfortable driving faster on nearly vacant highways… or were less likely to wear motorcycle helmets with fewer cars on the road. Whatever the cause, this counterintuitive fatality statistic has drivers and officials at MDOT scratching their heads.

Michigan’s 2020 Rise in Traffic Fatalities Follows a Disturbing National Trend

This fatal phenomenon is not limited to Michigan. Federal officials have reported that miles driven dropped more than 13 percent across the U.S. last year. Yet, the National Safety Council noted traffic deaths rose 8 percent over the same period. The tragic irony of the situation is obvious: a pandemic that saw people locked in their homes for safety reasons somehow resulted in a disproportionately higher number of freeway deaths. We’ll be interested to see if 2021 brings a return to normalcy on America’s highways. We can certainly hope.

Sadly, as of early July, Michigan was on pace to match last year’s high fatal accident numbers, at least if the current trend continues through the end of the year. By just after Independence Day, more than 540 people have already died on the state’s roads, putting us in a position to duplicate or even exceed 2020’s total of 1,083 traffic fatalities. The next few months will determine if 2021 ends up being even deadlier than the previous year. So, buckle your seatbelts, check your mirrors, and please drive safely and conscientiously.

Fortunately, there is a small silver lining. Setting those jarring statistics aside, Michigan does tend to fare well in its overall traffic fatality rate. Examining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Michigan State Police, we’ve found that, for every million miles driven, traffic fatalities in Michigan tend to be about 15 percent lower than the national average. That speaks well to our state’s driver education programs, and to the relative safety of Michigan’s highway system. In fact, Michiganders can take pride in being one of the 15 lowest states for traffic fatalities, according to data compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that was published in March 2021.

So, keep up the good solid work behind the wheel, fellow Michiganders! We wish you many incident-free miles of motoring along our state’s beautiful roadways in the coming months. Of course, if you’re ever unfortunate enough to suffer from a traffic incident caused by a less-than-careful driver, we’ll be here for you!  Just call 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946), text us at 833-898-MIKE (833-898-6453), or click here.