The rate of traffic fatalities on Kansas highways surged in the first nine months of 2020 despite dramatic reduction in miles traveled because of temporary stay-at-home mandates and ongoing health concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say.

The Reflector reports that number of vehicle miles traveled on Kansas highways from January through September plummeted 10.2% compared to the same period in 2019.

The fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled in Kansas increased during the nine-month period, escalating to 1.52 in 2020 from 1.29 in 2019.

The total number of Kansas highway traffic fatalities – not just the rate – increased during the March to September months in which COVID-19 imposed the greatest impact on residents of the state.

The National Safety Council’s estimate based on the first six months of 2020 data from all 50 states indicated there was a 20% jump in the U.S. death rate, which is a key indicator of how safely drivers used the roadways.

The shift between January and June 2020, compared to the same six-month period in 2019, represented the highest surge for a six-month period since 1999, NSC said.