Traffic Accident Rates Rise as the COVID-19 Crisis Continues
As more and more people stay at home to avoid COVID-19 infection, traffic has decreased by roughly 60% to 70%. However, these less crowded roads are not necessarily safer. It turns out that the overall rate of car crashes has actually been increasing during the pandemic. If you have been in a car crash, you can contact RAM Law to help with your accident claim.
Statistics Show Worrying Trends in Accident Rates
The COVID-19 crisis has greatly changed the distance and length of time that people are driving. Overall, the number of car accidents has decreased simply because there are fewer drivers on the roads right now. For example, in Austin, there were 381 car crashes in March 2020 compared to 450 in March of last year. Meanwhile, there has been a 35% drop in car crash fatalities in New Jersey. However, statistics show a less reassuring picture when you consider the overall rates of car accidents.
Though the number of cars on the road has been more than cut in half, the number of auto crashes is only slightly lower than it was before the pandemic. When you look at COVID-19 car accident rates, there is no drastic decline to match the drop rate in traffic. In fact, car accidents are actually on the rise on a per driver basis. Right now, a higher percentage of cars on the road are getting into accidents. If you go for a drive, you actually have a higher risk of getting into a wreck.
COVID-19 Crashes Are More Likely to Be Fatal
Another concerning change to be aware of is that fatality rates have also risen more than expected. There are still fewer traffic deaths than usual because so few people are driving. However, the number of deaths per driver on the road is actually on the rise. In fact, the rate at which people are dying in car accidents has increased even more than the rate at which people are getting into accidents in the first place.
For example, in Massachusetts, the traffic collision rate dropped by 73% in March, yet the number of car crash deaths only dropped by 38%. This works out to a more than doubled chance of dying in a car accident if you get into a wreck during the pandemic. These statistics are showing that the types of accidents people are getting into tend to be more severe. Instead of walking away with just a scratch or two, a higher percentage of drivers in wrecks are severely injured or killed.
The Reason Crash Rates Are Rising
With no one on the road, the higher rate of car crashes and fatalities might seem confusing, but it starts to make more sense when you look at how traffic patterns have changed. Before COVID-19, the majority of cars on the road were people following their standard routine, going between work, school, home, and entertainment hubs. Now, most drivers are either those working hard at essential jobs or people driving around simply for entertainment. Combined with the wider open roads and a belief that police officers are too busy to monitor the roads, more and more people are driving incautiously and breaking road safety laws.
Though irresponsible driving seems to be the biggest contribution to the soaring car crash and accident rates, it is not the only problem. Another potential issue is the rising number of jobs for truck and delivery vehicle drivers. To meet this demand for essential workers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has relaxed its previous regulations on the number of hours a truck driver can work before they have a break. This change to trucking law means there are a lot more tired commercial drivers on the road. As these brave men and women work to make sure people get the food and health care supplies they need, they run the risk of being overworked. This state of exhaustion can lead to some unfortunate mistakes and concerning accidents. Due to the size of these large commercial trucks, crashes can be even more devastating.
Reopening the State May Not Lower Car Crash Rates and the Need for an Accident Claim
The high car crash rates might not go away just because New Jersey relaxes its stay-at-home orders. In fact, some fear this may lead to some entirely new problems for drivers. For several months, people have barely driven their cars. Just like any other activity, driving a car well tends to require practice. For those no longer used to navigating rush hours or busy highways, the risk of an accident may be a little higher.
The lack of frequent driving may also be an issue for cars and trucks themselves. Many vehicles are not being properly maintained during the lockdown. This means potential problems like oil leaks and rusty fittings could go unnoticed for months. The first time these unmaintained vehicles go back on the road, they may break down at critical moments, leading to traffic jams and accidents. Therefore, it might take quite a while for car crash rates to go down to their former levels once the coronavirus pandemic ends.
How to Stay Safe on the Road and Not Need to File an Accident Claim
Being aware of this car crash problem can help you stay safe when you need to leave your home. Most of the higher risks of car crashes is due to the people around you who are driving negligently. Therefore, you should keep an eye on your fellow drivers and put a wide distance between other vehicles that appear to be driving unsafely.
A few other road safety tips to consider include the following:
- Keep a lookout for red-light runners when entering intersections.
- Regularly maintain your car to keep it running properly.
- Double-check behind you before backing out.
- Avoid driving right next to a vehicle on double-laned roads.
- Look both ways even if you have the right of way.
- Always stay at least a few car lengths away from a vehicle in front of you.
- Follow all speed limits and other traffic laws.
- Check your brakes and lights before driving a vehicle that has sat inactive for a while.
- Drive with more caution when weather causes wet roads or visual impairments.
- Be extra-careful driving around commercial truckers, many of whom may be overworked at this time.
Filing an Accident Claim Against Negligent Truck Fleets
If you do end up in an accident, having an experienced trucking law attorney on your side can help you get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, and other expenses. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Legal counsel can help you collect potential evidence and talk to witnesses while everyone’s memory is still fresh. Being proactive and seeking justice after a car crash can help you recover and heal.
At Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P., we have years of experience in practicing personal injury law. Our team can discuss your accident claim and help you decide whether or not to pursue a lawsuit. During the coronavirus crisis, we are working remotely, so you can get help without having to leave the safety of your home. Schedule your virtual consultation by giving us a call at (732) 394-1549 or using our online contact form. We have New Jersey offices in New Brunswick, Somerville, and Freehold.