With COVID-19 forcing people to stay indoors for an extended period of time, why would there be any reason for a rise in deadly car accidents during the pandemic? The streets have been relatively empty for months and people have been mandated to stay inside their homes, so perhaps we would expect to see a dramatic decrease in the number of fatal crashes that were occurring out on the roadway. But that is simply not the case.
Statistics show that car accidents have been on the rise throughout this year, with accidents increasing by 14 percent in March. And according to this article on OHS, several states have even reported a rise in car crash deaths during COVID-19, with Connecticut, Louisiana, and New York being the top three.
Many businesses have provided information on how we can stay safe in social settings during the pandemic—wearing facemasks and gloves, practicing social distancing, and adjusting to government regulations—but we believe it is also important to pay attention to how we can stay safe on the roads, as well.
Let us consider how COVID-19 might be affecting how we drive and how this could be contributing to the increase in fatal car accidents this year. This includes how much we pay attention to the road when there are not many drivers to share the road with and practical we should take, but not be taking to keep our roads safe for everyone.
What are the causes, if any, for increased car accidents during COVID-19, and what steps can you take to stay safe?
To begin this conversation, let us consider briefly the 14 percent increase in motor vehicle fatalities and accidents despite COVID-19. Afterward, we will consider steps that you and your family can take to ensure that you are taking optimal steps to drive safely. Especially, as more people leave their homes and return to work, the streets are bound to refill with vehicles. While you can not control how others drive, you can control how you drive.
Though the “Coronavirus roads” inadvertently meant fewer cars to share the road with, the roads apparently were still just as risky as roads filled with cars, if not riskier. Prior to COVID-19, the top causes of car accidents in America were: distracted driving (whether by means of texting, talking on the phone, eating, or something else), drunk driving (with an increase of such accidents during the holidays), speeding and other forms of reckless driving, driving during bad weather conditions, and falling asleep or being drowsy behind the wheel. Have these statistics changed since the pandemic?
Has COVID-19 affected the way we drive for the worse?
An article on Police1 reports that speeding and distracted driving are leading the causes for car crash deaths amid the shutdown. In an interview with Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Gordon Shank, it is further noted that since the coronavirus shutdowns began, empty roads are leading people to take chances behind the wheel that end up costing them their lives.
Among the three states listed at the beginning of this article, Minnesota is among those states in with spiked car crash death rates. “Drunken driving numbers in many states have actually fallen,” Shank said. This could be a direct result of just how empty the roads are.
However, although drunk driving has decreased and the total number of deaths is about the same as last year, with 50 percent fewer cars on the road, people are dying in car crashes at a higher rate. Consider drivers in California, another state that has experienced increased car crash death rates during the pandemic.
Many of us are “used” to the notorious California traffic—or at least we expect it. We expect to spend hours each week snailing our way through overcrowded streets and highways just to go from one crowded destination to another crowded destination. Suddenly, COVID-19 strikes, governments initiate a stay-at-home order, and now the roads are clear.
Having clear roads in California, especially in high-traffic areas such as Los Angeles, is like a dream that many Socal residences would never think to experience. When drivers who are used to traffic suddenly see empty highways in front of them, the natural inclination for some is to take advantage of it and zoom…literally. For this reason, there is likely to be an increase in fatal car accidents during the pandemic.
Protect yourself on the roads, whether they are full or empty.
While people’s driving behaviors might change as a result of how many people are on or off the roads, one thing we do not need to change is how to protect ourselves while driving on the roads. What are some practical steps we could take to ensure that we are being as safe as possible when we drive? Let us consider some safe driving tips that we can apply to do our part to counteract increased car fatalities and accidents.
- Obey all speed limits and signs. Speed limits help limit your speed and make it easier for you to stop your vehicle if needed. The speed limit is not only for congested roads; it also reduces the amount of time it takes for you to react to changes in the roadway or flow of traffic
- Be attentive and drive responsibly. This includes not attempting to do multiple things at once while driving or not attempting to try “new methods” of driving that are not regulated by the law.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It does not matter if you are the only car in sight; driving under the influence could still result in a fatal car accident even if one person is involved.
- Always wear your seatbelts. Being buckled up during a crash helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, they are the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers, and they stop you from being completely ejected from a vehicle which is almost always deadly.
Have you seen the increase of fatal car accidents during these times or have you experienced a catastrophic injury as a result of a vehicle accident?
Being in a car accident could leave you with a catastrophic injury. At Raynes | Erickson, we represent personal injury clients throughout Southern California. California is one of the states to report an increase in car crash deaths during COVID-19. For this reason, if you have experienced a personal injury as a result of being in a vehicle accident and you are located in Southern California, it is vital to choose a firm with experienced attorneys that make you feel comfortable and supported. The attorney you choose can most certainly affect the outcome of your case.
Please contact the Raynes | Erickson team today and speak with a member of the firm. The applicable statute of limitations is likely already running, so timing can be critically important to your case. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation, confidential legal consultation.