The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on normal traffic patterns throughout the United States. The rising unemployment rate and lockdowns implemented in many states significantly decreased traffic on the roads, streets, and highways during the pandemic. However, it also created a whole new set of problems in some areas.
With roads unburdened by traffic, there’s been a surge in the number of reckless driving incidents – such as speeding, illegal street racing, drunk driving – throughout the country.
Despite stay-at-home orders and more people working from home, the number of traffic crashes is rising in some areas. Many states saw an uptick in the number of traffic-related fatalities, and officials are trying to figure out how to combat this trend.
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Reports of drivers getting pulled over for speeding in excess of 100 mph have been common every week in some states. In one locale, 42 people died in a quarantine car accident during the first 45 days of lockdown compared to 29 people during the same period last year. Despite there being half the amount of traffic during the pandemic, the number of fatalities doubled.
On April 25, an officer on a motorcycle died in a crash caused by a drag racing driver in New York. A state trooper pulled over a cop in Atlanta who was driving 130 mph despite needing to self-quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
Other reports also surfaced from state troopers catching people traveling at speeds of 130 mph in Virginia, Minnesota, California, and Maryland. This trend has many officials concerned, especially with states lifting the lockdown restrictions and reopening some businesses.
Who Is on the Road During the Lockdowns?
Law enforcement is having a difficult time monitoring traffic during the pandemic. Many people are essential workers driving to the hospital for their shift. Others are driving to the grocery store and running necessary errands. Others are ignoring the guidelines altogether to hit the road after spending weeks trapped at home.
An increase in coronavirus traffic also the result of those taking advantage of their extra free time by completing home projects. They’re driving to home improvement stores to buy paint, nails, and other materials. Some are even volunteering within their communities to deliver homemade masks to medical facilities and purchase groceries for the elderly.
Has Speeding or Reckless Driving Increased During Quarantine?
With crashes related to speeding more common nowadays, it seems drivers are more distracted than usual. Many are using their phone behind the wheel. During the weeks following the initial lockdown, phone usage increased by 38%. That contributed to 20% more crashes per million miles nationwide.
Even though traffic dropped 41% during the lockdown, the number of quarantine car accident incidents decreased by only 21% nationally. In some of the largest and most congested cities, the average speed of drivers increased by 250%. Experts and officials say this makes sense because less traffic congestion provides open roads for people to travel at higher speeds.
Many people were negatively impacted by the pandemic, losing their jobs, and feeling restless after weeks or months spent in their homes. With the lockdown lifting in many states and many people attempting to return to normal life before the initial COVID-19 outbreak, distracted motorists are getting behind the wheel. There are fewer cars on the road than usual, allowing individuals more opportunity to speed, text while driving, and ignore basic traffic laws.
How Will Ending Lockdowns Impact Traffic Accidents?
The pandemic is far from over, but states throughout the country are attempting to reopen businesses and allow residents to resume their daily routines. With summer starting, it’s a safe assumption that there will be more vehicles on the road as people go on vacation, dine out at restaurants, and spend more time enjoying the warm weather.
Everyone must start preparing now to ensure they’re safer on the country’s roadways. If you’re transitioning from working at home to getting back in the office, plan out your route. There could be closures, construction, or traffic congestion you hadn’t experienced since before the lockdowns started. Encountering unexpected road conditions could cause more congestion than people are used to and result in more vehicle crashes.
Make sure you remain attentive behind the wheel. That means putting your cell phone down and paying attention to the motorists around you. A lot of people followed stay-at-home orders and haven’t driven in months. Once they begin driving again, they might be a bit rusty. If you stay alert, you could prevent a coronavirus traffic accident.
The effects of lifting the restrictions could result in a further increase in accidents. With more cars on the road, there’s an increased chance of encountering a dangerous situation. Some might feel emboldened to drive recklessly after quarantining, while others might be traveling back to their home hundreds of miles away. Motorists could be tired, frustrated, and anxious to resume their lives.
Contact a Lawyer If You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Accident
We understand the impact the pandemic has had on the lives of people who live and work in our community. However, we will not stand for negligent actions that harm others, and particularly incidents of reckless or careless driving. These preventable crashes come with a huge cost, including pain, suffering, financial losses, and in the most tragic cases, death.
If you were hurt in a car accident caused by a reckless motorist in Huntsville, call the experienced car accident attorneys at Morris, King & Hodge immediately. We have the skills necessary to hold the at-fault party responsible for your injuries and other losses.
Call us or reach out to us online today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your accident and how we can help make things right.
Harvey B. Morris is a lifelong Alabamian who has been practicing law in Huntsville since getting his law degree and passing the state bar in 1966.