COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way we as American’s live our lives. Most companies transitioned their employees to remote work wherever possible, while others laid workers off. COVID-19 lockdowns led to a dramatic decrease in traffic around the country. Despite fewer drivers, car accident statistics show an overall increase in fatal collisions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 8,730 people died in car crashes in the first three months of 2021, compared with 7,900 deaths during the same period last year.
For all of 2020, U.S. traffic deaths rose 7.2% to 38,680, hitting the highest yearly total since 2007 – even though Americans drove 13% fewer miles. The early 2021 deaths were also the highest in a first-quarter since 2007.
Some experts said that as U.S. roads became less crowded, some motorists engaged in more unsafe behavior, including those who perceived police were less likely to issue tickets because of COVID-19.
Why Were So Many Americans Unsafe When Roads Were Empty?
Studies point to speeding and other risks taken by drivers have contributed to the increase in fatal car accidents during the pandemic. Although the lack of traffic means fewer cars on the road during the coronavirus pandemic, it also means long stretches of highway uninterrupted by other vehicles. Fewer vehicles on the road mean less congestion and faster overall traffic speeds.
Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of other drivers on the roads has inspired some to drive at excessive speeds, race, or engage in other acts of reckless driving. Traffic safety experts believe that speeding and dangerous driving correspondingly increase the severity of auto accidents and the number of fatal collisions during lockdowns.
The decrease in the number of police officers patrolling the streets during lockdown furthered the prevalence of reckless driving behaviors. Unfortunately, this combination caused an overall increase in the number of fatal car accidents, especially during the initial phase of the pandemic.
Many drivers and passengers forgot basic driving safety measures. This news shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who continued to drive during the lockdown months of the pandemic. Rush hour traffic was essentially nonexistent in most cities. Less traffic meant more opportunities to speed, and fewer drivers neglected basic precautions like seat belts.
How You Can Stay Safe on the Road
Car accident statistics for the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 are still pending. Existing data suggests, however, that the upward trend in the number of fatal accidents has maintained relatively steady throughout subsequent lockdowns connected to COVID-19. Drivers today are still taking advantage of reduced traffic and less police activity to engage in reckless behaviors such as texting and driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and not wearing seat belts.
Keep yourself and your family safe on the road during the COVID-19 pandemic by being vigilant about other drivers around you. Practice defensive driving: assume other drivers will break the rules and endanger your life, rather than the opposite. Keep an eye out for drivers who may pose a risk, such as speeding, racing, weaving between lanes, driving the wrong way, or running red lights and stop signs. If you notice a driver breaking a traffic law, maintain a safe distance and report their license plate number to the police.
If you or your loved ones were in a car accident at any point throughout the pandemic, you might still be navigating the after-effects. Call our office today for a free legal consultation at: (727)-699-2828