Crash deaths down 25% on Michigan roadways during pandemic

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Preliminary vehicle crash data for the first four months of 2020 show fatalities are down 25 percent compared to the same months last year, per Michigan State Police.

Through April 30, Michigan had 194 crash deaths, down from 260 in 2019. For nearly six weeks  of that time, Michigan has been on a statewide lockdown, mandated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in response to the coronavirus, which has now killed 5,000 people in the state.

While the National Safety Council has found that fatal crashes per 100 million miles driven were up 14% nationwide in March compared with March 2019, they were down 12% in Michigan. While the council called the nationwide spike "alarming," it called the falling numbers in certain states, including Michigan, "notable."

More:US roadway death rate up in March despite virus restrictions

"Quarantines and shelter in place directives across the country most likely account for a significant portion of the drop in the number of deaths," the council said in its statement on the data.

That preliminary data was released with preliminary 2019 crash data, which won't be finalized for several more months. In 2019, 985 people died in crashes in Michigan, a 1% increase from the 974 deaths recorded in 2018.

Injuries, crashes and suspected injury crashes were all just 1% up or down in Michigan compared to 2018; deaths in alcohol-involved fatal crashes were down 6%, to 295.

Fatal crashes involving young drivers rose sharply in 2019, to 124, up 17% from 106 in 2018. But deaths of teens were down 5%, with 60 deaths compared to 63 in 2018.

Death data in Michigan can change significantly as time goes on.

In early April, state health department data reported roughly 5,900 people had died in March, well below the five-year average of about 8,600. That number has since shot up to 9,415, or about 9 percent higher than a typical March.

Death data for April reflected about 7,400 deaths in early May, but has since shot up to 11,713.