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Fewer Cars but More Accidents; What You Need to Know About the Pandemic’s Effects on our Roadways



Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March of 2020, surprising data has surfaced regarding traffic trends, car accidents, and car crash-related deaths. Due to stay-at-home orders and nationwide state shutdowns, fewer people have been commuting to work and school. With this in mind, researchers were expecting to see statistics indicating fewer car accidents and road deaths; what they found defied their expectations.

Fewer cars on the road

Statistics from the United States show a 17 percent drop in vehicle miles traveled between the months January and June of 2020 during the height of the pandemic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported fewer cars traveling during this time. According to the news outlet Axios’ statistics, total traffic volume fell a total of 16 percent on roads in the United States during the first six months of 2020.

Decreased accidents during the beginning of the pandemic

During the first quarter of 2020, states such as California saw a decrease in overall accidents. In San Francisco, a typical week would have about 260 calls made to 911 regarding car accidents and traffic collisions. During the week of March 17th through March 23rd, there were just 110 total calls regarding traffic collisions. For San Francisco, California, this was the fewest number of car accident calls during a week in over 17 years.

Even outside the United States, countries were seeing similar statistics during March. Autoplus reported 250 people dying due to traffic collisions in France during 2019, but in March of 2020, this number dropped to only 130 car accident-related deaths.

Frontline workers, a vulnerable community

As many people found themselves working from the comfort of their own homes, there was a community of unseen frontline workers who were required to stick to their daily work routines. According to research released by the Huffington Post, the number of road deaths and vehicle-related injuries for professional drivers such as truck drivers, UPS, FedEx, etc., did not change. 

The rise of reckless driving

Mental health experts believe that the pandemic and social isolation may directly correlate with reckless driving and substance abuse behind the wheel. During a time when people are dealing with uncertainty, frustration, and loneliness, perhaps blowing off some steam by taking a quick drive would seem like a good idea to some. However, these careless driving tendencies have proven to be fatal for many car accident victims.

A study conducted by NHTSA during April, May, and June discovered that drivers who were seriously injured or killed by car accidents had taken part in high-risk behaviors such as speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, being impaired by drugs, or simply not wearing a seatbelt. This research also indicated that during these same three months in 2020, individuals consumed a greater amount of alcohol, cannabis, and opioids than their use before the pandemic.

These accidents may have been caused by a desire to feel liberated after weeks and months of isolation prompted by the nationwide lockdowns. Reduced presence of law enforcement may have also had an effect on this rise in reckless driving and car crash-related fatalities.

As reckless driving increases, so do fatalities

Being on the roads with reckless drivers is anxiety-provoking for both professional and everyday motorists. The dangers that come with irresponsible driving habits can be fatal. In the United States, fatality rates have increased to 30% during the months April, June, and July of 2020, leaving people uneasy and uncertain of the risks that come with hitting the road.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been vast at both the national and global level and has already disrupted the lives of millions of people. People must drive responsibly to keep other motorists safe and be aware of the consequences of reckless driving. If you have been involved in a traffic collision during these unprecedented times, reach out to Houma Injury Lawyers to seek legal guidance and representation. Slowing down, adhering to local speed regulations, and practicing safe driving habits has the potential to save thousands of lives this year alone.


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