Why Your Car Crash Risk Has Gone UP During the Pandemic

November 16th, 2020

If you’ve been driving to work or the store recently and noticed that the people around you seem to be driving even worse than before, it’s not just you. And it’s not that quarantine has put other drivers out of practice either.

The coronavirus pandemic means that there are less drivers on the roads, but that reduced traffic has also made the drivers who are out and about more reckless than before. Specifically, the culprit is speeding.

At the height of lockdown, national traffic dropped by as much as 60%. Since lockdown orders have lifted, traffic levels have increased to just below normal, or about 10-20% less than what they were at this point last year.

However, less traffic means less congestion, which typically forces people to drive at slower speeds. And while that’s good for drivers’ commutes, it’s definitely not good for drivers’ safety.

Drivers being ticketed during the pandemic are regularly driving more than 20 MPH over the posted speed limit, and according to the Washington Post, some cities are seeing drivers going more than double the posted speed limit.

In fact, drivers are being reported as reaching speeds of 100 MPH 20% more often than pre-pandemic levels, according to Arity, a driving analytics company.

Traffic Deaths Have Gone Up All Over the Country

While minor or no injury crashes have decreased nationally since the start of the pandemic, serious and fatal crashes have either remained at the same level or have actually increased.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for early 2020 was 1.25, compared to 1.06 for the same period in 2019. In the second quarter, the fatality rated jumped to 1.4.

This is a disturbing reversal, considering 2019 was the third year in a row with fewer traffic deaths. However, the combination of less congestion and police departments dialing back traffic stops in light of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have undone these efforts to reduce traffic fatalities.

Is it Just Speeding?

It’s not just speeding that’s making roads more dangerous, although that seems to be the primary cause of the increased number of traffic deaths.

More people are also driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

When hospitals and morgues tested the blood of people involved in fatal crashes throughout the pandemic, alcohol was found 26.9% of the time (compared to 21.3% pre-COVID), cannabinoids were found 31.2% of the time (compared to 21.4% pre-COVID), and opioids were found 12.9% of the time (compared to 7.6% pre-COVID).

Overall, fatal crashes involved at least one active drug 64.7% of the time, compared to 50.8% pre-COVID.

Driving in the Pandemic Safety Reminders

Lockdown may have lifted, but many people are still working from home and avoiding going out as often due to the pandemic, which means less traffic than you may typically be used to.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to ignore precautions you would normally take when you get behind the wheel, such as:

  • Always wear a seatbelt – Buckling up can reduce your risk of serious injury by 50%!
  • Never use your phone while driving – You could cover the length of a football field in the time it takes to read a single text, which is more than enough time and distance to get into an accident.
  • Stay the speed limit – Speed limits are set to give people enough time to react to road and traffic conditions. Ignoring them makes it easier to lose control of your vehicle or be unable to react in time to prevent a crash.
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol – It may sound like an exaggeration,  but even one drink can make you an unsafe driver by lowering inhibitions (making you more likely to drive recklessly) and slowing your reflexes (making to harder to react to prevent a crash).

Injured in a Wreck in Louisiana? Call Dudley DeBosier Today

Reduced traffic is no excuse for ignoring traffic laws, especially when those actions cause others to get hurt. If you’ve been injured in a crash caused by someone else, our Louisiana car accident attorneys ready to help.

We’ll work hard to get you the compensation you deserve, while practicing COVID-19 precautions, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries without worry.