With more people working from home and driving less, you would think our roads would be safer. Two recent studies show that’s not the case because of a rise in reckless and risky driving.
A report from INRIX, a traffic data company, showed that the accident rate didn’t drop much last year considering how easily we breezed across the Bay Bridge during rush hour.
During the latter half of 2020, from August through October, vehicle traffic dropped 21% compared to the same time period in 2019. The number of collisions dropped only 9%.
A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows similar trends. Its 2020 report shows a big decrease in traffic near the beginning of the pandemic (March-April) but a disturbing increase in fatalities. NHTSA’s study reported a 13.1% increase in fatalities in July through September compared to the same time period in 2019.
Why are accidents on the rise?
Why so many more accidents? More speeding, driving without seatbelts, and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. I can only guess the sight of an open road must tempt some drivers to drive like they’re in a NASCAR race. I can’t explain why people would forget to wear their seatbelt during a pandemic.
To help reverse the trend, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) plans to launch a Speed Management Pilot Program this year. According to GHSA, the program will involve “selected states [that] will bring together engineers, law enforcement and local governments to pilot test comprehensive speed management plans.”
Our current administration also plans to crack down on traffic injuries and deaths. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has said he plans to take the Vision Zero program national. Vision Zero is an approach dedicated to eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy transportation. The cities of Oakland and San Francisco both have Vision Zero policies.
What this means for you
When there’s no traffic, it’s tempting to hit the gas and speed to your destination. Don’t take the risk. You could not only end up with an expensive ticket, you could also cause a serious crash. Traumatic brain injury, whiplash, and chronic back pain are just a few consequences of serious vehicle accidents.
To keep yourself safe on the roads, follow the basics:
- Obey the speed limit.
- Obey all traffic signs, signals, and other rules of the road.
- Keep your phone and other devices out of sight.
- Don’t drive while under the influence, even a little bit.
- Be courteous. People are under a lot of stress right now, and it often shows in their driving behavior.
If you get into a serious vehicle accident, get medical attention right away. As soon as you’re ready, call our office for a free consultation. We’ll evaluate your case and help determine next steps.