CHICAGO, IL – There has been much less traffic on the roads because of the novel coronavirus that has resulted in the closing of non-essential businesses and stay-at-home orders that have been in place since mid-March. There has been a reduction in car crashes; however, in some places the number of deaths from car accidents has decreased while others have increased.
Pandemic Traffic Crash Statistics
Some cities and states have seen a significant increase in dangerous car crashes during the pandemic. Through the first three months of 2020, the following states have experienced notable increases in the number of roadway deaths: Arkansas (16%), California (8%), Connecticut (42%), Illinois (11%), Louisiana (23%), Nevada (10%), New York (17%), North Carolina (10%), Oklahoma (9%), Tennessee (6%), and Texas (6%).
States with notable decreases include: Arizona (-4%), Hawaii (-32%), Idaho (-28%), Iowa (-13%), Maryland (-13%), Michigan (-12%), Oregon (-24%), and South Carolina (-12%).
Many people die from roadway accidents, especially during holiday weekends. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated over Memorial Day weekend that 366 may die on U.S. roads. If the estimate holds, it will be the lowest number of fatalities for the holiday period since 2014.
Reasons for an Increase in Accidents
Reports indicate speeding has increased significantly since traffic has lessened. Some states are moving towards “ill-advised” roadway tactics intended to address the pandemic such as repealing requirements for teen drivers to pass road tests before acquiring licenses and relaxing hours of service rules for commercial vehicle drivers.
Distracted driving may also be more prevalent since there is less traffic, so drivers get a false sense of security and begin to use less caution. Drivers figure they have more time to react, so its OK to look at their cellphone.
“What really strikes me is the incredible speed of the changes we’re seeing on a roadways,” Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council, told NPR. “Looking at other recessions what you usually see is a decrease in the number of deaths, or the injuries and fatality rate holding steady or decreasing slightly.”
Practicing defensive driving is always important, and it is particularly important during the pandemic, as drivers may be much more reckless. To help ensure safer roads, NSC urges people to do the following while on the road:
- Follow state and local directives and stay off the roads if officials have directed you to do so; many states are asking drivers to stay home unless it’s an emergency situation or for essential errands
- Obey speed limits, even if roads are clear and traffic is light
- Practice defensive driving: Buckle up, designate a sober driver if you’re going out drinking or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and avoid distractions
- Be aware of increased pedestrians and bicycle traffic as people turn more to walking and biking to get out of their house safely during quarantine
- Stay engaged with teen drivers’ habits and practice with them frequently (tips available here)
- Organizations and employers are encouraged to join the Road to Zero Coalition, a group committed to eliminating roadway deaths by 2050
NSC collects fatality data monthly from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center of Health Statistics, so deaths occurring within one year of the crash on public and private roadways–such as parking lots and driveways–are included in the estimates. NSC motor vehicle crashes and estimates for each state can be reviewed here.
Injured in an Auto Accident? Our Licensed Attorneys Can Help
If you suffered injuries in a car crashed caused by someone’s negligence, or you lost a loved one in an accident, please call the Dinizulu Law Group for a free consultation. We may be able to help you seek compensation for your damages. With more than 50 years of experience, our legal team has protected and brought justice to victims and their families through Chicago and Illinois. Due to the statute of limitations, it’s important you inquire with an experienced attorney immediately to preserve your legal rights. For a free consultation, call (312) 384-1920 or visit our website for more information.