Rate of Deadly Crashes Doubles in Mass. Despite Lighter Traffic

Twenty-eight people died in crashes in April compared to 27 at the same time last year when there were 50% more vehicles on the road, according to MassDot

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The amount of traffic on Massachusetts roadways is down with most people staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the rate of fatalities has doubled, according to the state's Department of Transportation.

In April, 28 people died in crashes compared to 27 the same month last year, when there were 50% more vehicles on the road, according to MassDot.

"This past month, we saw a pretty disturbing trend in the way that people have been driving," Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said Monday.

Speed and distraction have caused many of the crashes that killed drivers, passengers, people riding bicycles and motorcycles, as well as pedestrians, according to Gulliver.

"Although you have more of an open road than you used to, you still don't have the road completely to yourself," Gulliver said.

The transportation agency is urging residents to slow down, obey the hands-free law, wear seatbelts, and of course, to not drive impaired.

With the stay-at-home advisory still in place, residents are also being reminded to watch out for people getting exercise.

"If you are driving, be prepared to yield to people walking and drive slowly. Empty streets are not a license to drive faster. Please consider every street a shared street and stay safe," Stacey Beuttell, executive director of WalkBoston, said in a statement.

MassDot suspects that many people are taking advantage of the clear highways with more people working from home, resulting in reckless driving.

The agency plans to roll out warnings on digital highway signs and team up with state and local police to crack down on drivers.

"We continue to work with law enforcement, both on the state police side and on the municipal side to look at where we have hot spots," Gulliver said.

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