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Connecticut had over 300 traffic deaths last year. Researchers are charting a road to safety

Jason DeCrow

2021 was the second worst year for traffic deaths in Connecticut, according to the latest data from UConn’s Transportation Safety Research Center.

Last year, there were 326 traffic deaths statewide, which included drivers and passengers in cars, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists, and crashes at roadside work zones. The worst on record was 2000 with 341 recorded traffic deaths statewide.

Eric Jackson, the center’s director, said when COVID-19 hit two years ago, roads became quieter, and people started to speed up. And that “COVID fatigue” is still playing out on the road.

“A lot of people lost the visual reference of cars beside them, so they started speeding and they’ve continued that speeding pattern on even though traffic volumes have picked back up. Really people need to watch their speed and to slow down,” Jackson said. “Another key thing is to try and stop the distractions that are in the car. Try and focus back on driving and keep your attention on the driving task at hand.”

Jackson said a key area of concern is the increase in pedestrian deaths. He said there needs to be improvements in road infrastructure.

“With pedestrian lighting and lighting around intersections that have pedestrians around them, visibility is key — not only for pedestrians to wear highly visible clothes but for there to be lighting around intersections so the cars can clearly see pedestrians around motorists,” he said.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.