Traffic Accident Decline During Lockdown
The COVID-19 virus and the related lockdown have disrupted lives and businesses across the world. Despite the negative consequences of this crisis, recent studies show that there might also be some positive and surprising side effects of the pandemic when it comes to car crash.
How Is the Pandemic Affecting Traffic Accidents?
According to a study from the University of California, Davis (UCD), the number of motor vehicle accidents and related fatalities in California decreased by about 50 percent during the state’s lockdown due to the coronavirus.
The UCD study shows that before California’s governor issued a stay-at-home order on March 19, there were around 1,000 traffic collisions and 400 crashes that caused fatalities or serious injuries each day on highways across the state. During the lockdown over the past several months, California highways saw just about 500 wrecks and 200 fatalities or serious injuries from motor vehicle collisions each day.
UCD thinks that a primary reason for this change in accidents is that there have been far fewer cars on the road during the lockdown. Over the past few months, traffic actually decreased by about 60 percent on many California highways.
However, studies in other states show that while the number of crashes decreased during the lockdown, the rate of serious crashes actually increased relative to the statistics from previous years.
For example, in Minnesota, there were 24 collisions and 28 fatalities in motor vehicle accidents between March 16 and April 7, 2020 – a 100 percent increase in wrecks and 115 percent increase in fatalities over the same time period in 2019.
Meanwhile, in Austin, the capital city of Texas, there were 111 injuries in crashes in March 2020, compared to just 99 such injuries in March 2019 – even though there was a 15 percent decrease in wrecks.
Similarly, in Massachusetts, over 1 percent of traffic collisions involved a fatality in the last two weeks of March 2020 – a much higher rate of fatalities than in the same period in 2019, when less than 0.5 percent of crashes involved a fatality. Likewise, the nearby state of Connecticut saw a 42 percent increase in roadway deaths during lockdown.
Nationwide, the National Safety Council estimates that fatality rates per miles driven went up 14 percent in March 2020 compared to March 2019. Researchers think that these increases in fatality rates might be due to drivers’ behavior during lockdown. With a much lower level of traffic volume, it appears that drivers have used this extra space on the road to drive more recklessly and have started driving at much higher speeds.
What About Crash Rates on American Roads Post-Lockdown?
It’s too early to say for sure how crash rates might change once states completely lift lockdown orders across the country. However, initial data shows that drivers might return to increasingly dangerous roads after the lockdown. The Los Angeles Police Department reported a spike in traffic fatalities in the last couple weeks of May as people started to return to the roads.
The coronavirus pandemic might permanently change the way Americans work, leading to more people working from home and fewer cars on the road. Nonetheless, it’s possible that drivers might have gotten used to driving faster and more recklessly during the lockdown and might continue this behavior even as traffic volume increases.
This could be a deadly combination that might result in increasingly higher fatal crash rates long after the COVID-19 lockdown orders end.
How You Can Stay Safe While Driving During the Pandemic
While states have started lifting lockdown orders across the country, many government leaders are still urging residents to stay home when possible and only go out for essential errands and trips. If you must drive during the pandemic, there are several steps you can take to stay safe and reduce your chance of getting into a wreck, such as:
- Despite lower traffic volumes, continue to drive the speed limit and obey regular traffic laws, such as slowing down in construction zones and in bad weather.
- Pay extra attention to other drivers on the road who might take more reckless actions than usual. Leave extra room between vehicles, so you have space to maneuver if another driver makes a sudden movement like swerving between cars.
- Resist texting while driving, operating a vehicle after drinking, driving while fatigued, checking email while driving, or engaging in other activities that would take your eyes off the road or reduce your ability to react quickly to obstacles or dangers on the road.
- Avoid reacting to aggressive drivers in order to improve your safety and the safety of everyone around you. Even if someone tailgates you or cuts you off, try your best to take a deep breath and calmly give the driver extra space instead of engaging in road rage actions.
- If you are in a motor vehicle accident, move off the road and to a safe location, if possible, while you wait for emergency responders or exchange information with the other driver and witnesses.
Anytime you stay in the road after an accident, it greatly increases your chance of getting hit in a secondary and even more serious collision. With people driving more dangerously right now, statistics show that your risk of getting in this type of fatal collision is even higher than usual.
Talk to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
With lockdown orders lifting across the country, studies show that drivers are at an even higher risk of getting into fatal and injurious wrecks. If you have been seriously injured or a loved one was killed in a car accident, contact The Terry Law Firm right away. Our knowledgeable Tennessee car accident lawyers are here to help you fight for the justice and maximum compensation you deserve.