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HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind.–There were twice as many fatal crashes in Hamilton County in 2020 compared to 2019.

26 people were killed in 24 crashes in 2020.

“People faced stressors last year like they wouldn’t normally face,” says Monica Greer, executive director of the Hamilton County Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs. “Job losses, food insecurity, and evictions. Unfortunately, we saw that play out on our roads in the form of drunk and drugged driving.”

According to the Criminal Justice Institute, 25% of all drivers involved in fatal collisions in Indiana are impaired.

Deputy Ryan McClain with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office says empty roads also invite faster speeds, which in turn increases the chances of a fatal crash. He says fewer traffic stops in early Spring, when there was a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the virus, could also be to blame.

“We didn’t know what we were up against,” McClain explains. “Our deputies had to balance the safety of our citizens with the safety of their lives. As a result, law enforcement agencies made fewer traffic stops in the first few months of 2020, only pulling over drivers for egregious infractions.”

According to a survey released by the RAND Corporation, American adults consumed more alcohol during the shutdown triggered by the pandemic. The results, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that the overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by nearly 20% among adults aged 30 to 59.