There’s no question that COVID-19 has impacted lives worldwide in many ways. As people spent months in lockdown trying to figure out a “new normal,” some parts of life (that were usually stable) changed because of the different conditions.
Road safety is one of those parts.
COVID-19 affected road safety both negatively and positively. According to the CDC, car crashes in the United States decreased by half because of the limited number of drivers on the road. It’s not all good news, however, because the average speed increased in several states and overall fatality rates rose by 4.6%. Keep reading for a more in-depth report of the reasons behind these statistics.
How COVID-19 Affected Road Safety during and after Lockdown
The lockdown for COVID-19 affected road safety for a variety of reasons. The general public spent more time at home to prevent the spread of the virus, which changed the dynamic of the roads. Here are some examples of that shift:
With fewer cars on the road, drivers all over the country felt a false sense of security which led to riskier driving habits like faster driving and not wearing seat belts. In Texas, the average speed went from 45 mph to 65 mph. The California Highway Patrol issued 87% more citations for speeding over 100 mph in its state.
Even though crashes decreased in number, they became more serious because driving wasn’t as safe as it should be. Car accident fatalities related to speed and unrestrained passengers were 78% higher during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as people continue going back to work and start traveling again, drivers will need to readjust to the slower speeds and more dangerous, crowded road conditions.
Stress Levels and Substance Consumption
Isolation and quarantine led many to higher stress levels. The pandemic significantly reduced social interactions and, combined with the pressure of a pandemic, led to an increase in mental health challenges for many.
Many people turned to alcohol and other substances as stress relievers. If people became intoxicated, some were less likely to call an Uber or a friend to pick them up because of the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. The increase in casual alcohol consumption quickly contributed to excessive car accidents related to DUIs. This is how COVID-19 affected road safety negatively.
Mode of Transportation Changes
On a positive note, travel changes during COVID-19 showed us a world with less motorized transportation. The use of public transportation, carpooling, Uber, and other motorized ways to travel in groups dropped substantially. Instead, many individuals turned to other ways of getting around like bikes and motorcycles. Bike usage increased exponentially all over the United States, most notably in big cities like Los Angeles and Houston, where the number of bikers increased by 93% and 138% respectively.
Introducing high bicycle numbers in big cities had an interesting effect on the organization of the road. Most big cities do not have the infrastructure to support lots of bicyclists. This was balanced by the lower number of cars during the lockdown, but it’s still uncertain how it will play out when roads have high-density traffic again.
Motorcycles and bicycles are in a unique position because they are consistently the smallest and most vulnerable vehicles. To encourage the bike count to remain high and to better protect bicyclists after the pandemic, cities in the U.S. and around the world are looking into more bike lanes and safe streets.
How COVID-19 Affected Road Safety in Nevada
The public transportation funding problem is one major way COVID-19 affected road safety in Nevada. Funding has been an issue for the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada for years. With the lockdown, however, the number of people riding buses decreased significantly. Tickets are a main source of revenue for the transportation system, so the lockdown made a bad problem worse. Government officials looked at ways to help so the buses could be fully functional after lockdown.
Nevada is unique because the majority of the population lives in big cities like Las Vegas or Reno. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most of Las Vegas was completely shut down. Without the usual congestion on the roads, it’s logical to think that traffic accidents would decrease. However, in Las Vegas and many other cities, traffic fatality rates rose during COVID-19 and have not dropped since. Nevada law enforcement officials are currently looking into the cause of this with the hope of preventing more crashes in the post-pandemic world.
What to Do if You’ve Been Injured in a Traffic Incident
It’s vital to have a plan in case of an emergency. Here are some steps you can take in the event of a traffic incident that caused injuries:
- Examine your injuries. Look for serious breaks, cuts, dizziness, or other indications of serious injury. Stay put if it’s not safe to move.
- Call 911. You should do this after a car accident even if no one gets hurt. When someone is injured, however, time is of the essence. Calling 911 sooner rather than later could save someone’s life.
- Exchange information with other drivers. This includes names, phone numbers, insurance information, addresses, etc. Having this information will make it so much easier to work with your insurance company later.
- Talk to the police. It’s important to give a full report of the crash and all the damage caused. The police report will help determine who was at fault and who is responsible for the damage costs.
- Contact your insurance. They will want a report of the damage and the other drivers’ details. Work with your insurance to find out what your cost responsibility will be.
- Talk to an attorney. Car accidents can be very tricky, especially if people attempt to spread blame or get as much money as possible from the other party. Talking to an attorney will help you to become informed of your rights and ensure you’re represented fairly.
At SJW Injury Attorneys, we have years of expertise in helping people with traffic accidents. We can guarantee you will receive the help you need and that all your questions will be answered. To schedule a free consultation, contact our team today.