Car Accident Fatality Rates Spike in Spring 2020
By Space Coast Daily // July 2, 2020
As states across the country started to instate stay-at-home orders and close non-essential businesses, March saw an increase of motor vehicle fatalities for every mile driven, according to a report released by the National Safety Council.
This is in combination with an overall drop in traffic as would-be commuters stayed off the road due to the Coronavirus.
When compared against the numbers of motor vehicle fatalities per mile driven in March 2019, March 2020 saw a 14% increase of deaths on the road per mile.
The National Safety Council found that for every 100 million miles driven in March, there were 1.22 deaths. In March 2019, that number was 1.07.
While the overall number of vehicle-related deaths dropped in March, so did the numbers of miles driven due to COVID-19, which results in the statistical difference between the years.
What the 14% increase shows for drivers on the road in March is that every mile driven was more dangerous than in the year before, and for many the cause is based on the global pandemic sweeping the nation that caused significant unemployment or shifts to working from home for many would be commuters.
What Does Coronavirus Have to Do With This?
Coronavirus and all its effects, from vast unemployment, to stay-at-home orders in states across the country, has significantly impacted the lives of millions.
Many industries and areas of life have been impacted by the drastic and unprecedented changes by the disastrous pandemic. It appears the roadways have also suffered unintended consequences.
“With significant changes in daily schedules, what used to be consistent traffic patterns on weekdays or during rush hours is now uncoordinated and uncertain,” explains Attorney Christopher Nicolaysen of Springs Law Group LLC.
As more and more people stay home, driving becomes an increasingly appealing way of entertainment or change in scenery. Coupled with Corona fatigue, a newly dubbed phenomenon as people grow tired of the same routine and surroundings in their homes, driving becomes a way to get out of the house and find something to do.
Using driving as a release has quickly turned into drivers taking advantage of the empty streets for street racing or unsafe driving patterns, which increases the risk for other people using the road for driving or bicycling.
Possible Long-Term Effects
With no end in sight to the novel Coronavirus, many are starting to imagine how their future lives will look with new restrictions on everyday life, such as social distancing, protective equipment, and frequent sanitizations.
Travel on the road is another component of everyday life that may be rethought due to the current pandemic. As more people shift to working remotely, there may be a change in traffic patterns as less people have to travel into a central work location.
The Coronavirus has also impacted travel abilities as new locations are utilized for popup hospitals or testing facilities, possibly further limiting traffic as lines of cars accumulate around these hubs.
There has even been governmental changes in requirements for driver registration or permits. For example, Georgia has now allowed teens to receive their driver’s license without a road test because of the restrictions caused by the Coronavirus.
The possible ramifications could significantly affect safety on the road as inexperienced drivers are allowed to drive without proper requirements.
Overall, it appears that many components of what used to be normal life will be altered to accommodate the new landscape dominated by COVID-19.
For some, this could mean rethinking driving habits or pursuing further driver safety. For others, it may mean ditching the daily commute to work from home or finding an office that is accessible by alternative methods of transportation.
How to Stay Safe on The Road
As businesses start to reopen and states lift their stay-at-home orders, it may be tempting to try and resume the life you lived before the pandemic.
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind to stay safe on the road as life returns to a new normal.
While it may seem obvious, it’s important to pay attention to the posted speed limits. Additionally, in poor visibility or weather conditions, you may benefit from decreasing your speed to match your comfort with the conditions.
Being aware of your surroundings is another way that can help you stay the safest on the road. Try to limit the distractions around you, like loud music, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Even if you feel like you are in control, you do not have the same reflexes or fine motor skills needed to operate your motor vehicle safely when you are under the influence.
Of course, the best thing to ensure safety on the road is to respect the law and do your part to avoid putting others at risk. Driving around for a change of scenery may be fun but remember that roads aren’t places to play or entertain yourself. You share the road with other drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.
If you don’t see them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there, so be aware of what’s going on around you and give proper distance when passing others who may also be taking advantage of the empty roadways.
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