Despite a decrease in the number of drivers on the road during the pandemic, the number of car crash deaths surged.

In 2020, as COVID19 cases rose, intensive care units, medical professionals, hospital resources were all heavily focused on the pandemic.

Efforts to prevent other dangers — like distracted driving— took a backseat.

During that time, deadly car crashes spiked.

AAA released a video revealing what happened when teen drivers with dash cams took their eyes off the road.

Swerving across lanes of traffic, off the road, and into other cars.

Julie Crabb is the Trauma Program Director for Delnor Hospital in Geneva. She uses different techniques and programs to demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving.

Part of Julie’s job also entails gathering statistics for 12 trauma centers across the northwestern suburbs.

Prior to the pandemic, these programs appeared to be helping curb dangerous driving.

Illinois Department of Transportation data shows fatal crashes went down in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

But because of COVID19, in-person programs like the ones led by Crabb couldn’t happen.

“Since the pandemic, we haven’t been out there doing awareness, we have started to see a rise in those fatalities again,” she said.

Fatal crashes across Illinois shot up nearly 33% since 2019, some caused by distracted drivers.

Crabb said she looks forward to steering people away from driving distracted again.

We all see the necessity to reset our focuses at this point, make sure we continue and now get back out in the community, raise awareness,” she said.

The hospital is once again working with schools this month.

They’re starting back up their work to teach teens learning to drive about these dangers.