Reduced Traffic Due to COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders Has Led to Increased Speeding-and Higher Death Rates

A recent report by the University of California Davis found that traffic accident-related injuries and fatalities in California fell by half in the first few weeks of the state’s stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Across the nation, including in Louisiana, similar reports began to emerge. The traffic analytics company INRIX found that travel times in some of the U.S.’s biggest cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, were down by as much as 77%. Even Atlanta, which had the lowest reduction in travel time, was experiencing a 16% decrease.

However, other reports have indicated that, while the total number of motor vehicle crashes is down, the rate of fatalities has not necessarily decreased. In fact, in some areas, fatality rates have actually increased.

What Does This Reveal?

In part, the high rate of traffic accident fatalities, even with fewer cars on the roads and fewer crashes, can be attributed to greater numbers of motorists engaging in reckless behavior, including speeding. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors in which a person can engage. The NHTSA reports that speeding was a factor in 9,378 traffic deaths in 2018 alone and attributed to about one third of all motor vehicle accident deaths in the past 20 years.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and as city and parish streets, rural roadways, and interstate highways become less and less congested, more motorists are taking advantage of these empty roads. At The Womac Law Firm, we are here to remind you that speeding is never safe.

What Makes Speeding So Dangerous?

Most people know speeding is dangerous. After all, speed limits are created for a reason. However, many people don’t realize just how dangerous speeding really is.

According to the NHTSA, speeding can and often does result in the following:

  • Longer reaction times, meaning it will take you longer to stop, move out of the way, or react to changing road conditions or sudden hazards;
  • Reduced effectiveness of automobile safety devices, including seatbelts, airbags, etc.;
  • Greater force in the event of a collision, leading to more extensive damage, more severe injuries, and a greater likelihood of death; and
  • Increased potential for loss of control of the vehicle, meaning you are more likely to be unable to control your vehicle, which could result in a crash.

In short, speeding puts you at a greater risk of being involved in an accident; and it increases the likelihood that that accident will result in severe or fatal injuries.

Stay Safe; Don’t Speed

The best way to keep yourself, your passengers, and others on the road safe is to simply refrain from speeding. Make sure to stay aware of your speed on empty roads and highways because it can be easy to drive at faster-than-normal speeds on roadways that are normally congested.

If you come across a speeding or reckless driver, give them space. Do not engage in road rage, such as slowing down or refusing to let them pass. Instead, put on your turn signal and safely move over to allow them to pass. It is always best to keep a good deal of distance between yourself and an aggressive driver. If you feel that your safety is in jeopardy, do not pull over or get out of your vehicle but instead contact local police as soon as it is safe to do so.

At The Womac Law Firm, we understand that even the safest of drivers can become involved in serious motor vehicle accidents through no fault of their own. If you were injured by a speeding driver or lost a loved one in an accident caused by an aggressive motorist, contact our firm for a free consultation with one of our New Orleans car accident attorneys.


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