This COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in an instant. Many people lost their jobs, businesses went bankrupt, the economy went down, and more. The other one that has changed a lot is traveling. Unnecessary trips were restricted in which resulted in fewer vehicles on the road. Based on the Federal Highway Administrations’ data, there’s a decrease of 13.2% or 430 billion miles on vehicle miles traveled in 2020. The traffic situation is better and very different from the stressful situation before. We’re hoping that there will be fewer motor vehicle accident injuries and fatalities, but it’s not.
In 2020, even people drove less, there was an estimated 38,680 fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there’s a 7.2% increase in cases from 2019. It’s the highest number of MVA death cases since 2007. NHTSA’s study shows that the increase in auto accidents is due to speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and DUI.
How COVID-19 Pandemic Influenced Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics?
Aside from the effects of COVID-19 in the world economy, this pandemic affected people’s driving in many ways. The increased percentage of auto accidents during the pandemic period shows that COVID-19 is a direct and indirect factor to this.
Due to the fewer cars on the road, reckless drivers see this as an opportunity. These drivers think that they could do what they want since the road seems empty for them. These irresponsible actions on the road are the cause of the increased number of accidents. Not just the reckless drivers, but other innocent motorists might have been involved as well.
Drowsiness Due To Medicines
Taking up medications for the symptoms or for the COVID-19 itself also affects your driving. Since there is still no proven medicine for COVID-19, people medicate using drugs for colds, fever, and cough which have a side effect of drowsiness. Taking up these kinds of medicines before or while driving could affect your concentration on the road.
Driving Under The Influence Of Illegal Drugs
COVID-19 pandemic gives emotional distress to people also. Due to the lockdown and travel ban, people are not able to do recreational things like before. Some people have a solution to this through illegal drugs. According to CDC data, there are 13% of Americans use illegal drugs to cope with the stress they experience due to the pandemic. This translates to more motor vehicle accident injuries and deaths since there are people who drive while intoxicated.
Less Police Patrolling
Due to lockdown, fewer police officers are patrolling in different areas. Since no one might arrest these reckless drivers, the number of irresponsible drivers increased. This also resulted in more MVA deaths and injuries.
Some drivers tend to speed when they see an open road. The data from FHWA shows that there’s a 22% increase in driving speed within different cities in the 3rd quarter of 2020. The average speed of the drivers increased due to fewer cars on the road during the pandemic compared to the previous year. A higher chance of motor vehicle accidents is the result of this increase in average speed.
Illegal Street Racing
For some drivers, the almost empty road is their race track. There are more cases of drag racing recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. The empty wide stretches of road tempt them to become reckless and not follow the speed limit.
Riding Without Licence
In 2020, there is a slight increase in the rate of motorcycle accidents. A higher percentage of riders without licenses were involved in these accidents. It is an alarming fact since the recorded number of these cases are now increased. New riders were tempted to drive their motorcycle on the long stretches of empty roads during the pandemic
Possible Negative Effects Of Wearing Mask While Driving
To protect everyone from this virus, it is highly recommended to wear a mask most of the time. This could lessen the risk of being infected through the air filtration it performs for the user. However, wearing a mask for some people could give a different effect. Especially when a person has other medical conditions, wearing a mask for a long period makes them feel lightheaded or even pass out. This is something that you don’t want to happen while you are driving. Remove the mask carefully when you’re driving and you started to feel uncomfortable or unable to breathe well.
When not worn correctly, a face mask could become a distraction to the driver. The mask could direct air to eyeglasses which makes it fogged. You might not be able to see the road properly which is very dangerous. Incorrect ways of wearing a mask could also obstruct your vision. Make sure that you are wearing it comfortably before driving.
Decreased Driving Skills When Ill
A driver will not be able to perform best when seriously ill. Instinct and driving skills will not be at best during this situation. This is dangerous for the driver and other innocent people around. There are researches state that feeling sick while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving, It is because driving skills decrease by 50% when you’re not feeling well. Having symptoms of COVID-19 while driving might result in motor vehicle accidents.
Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries and Fatalities Factors
Based on the data from NHTSA, here are the different MVA injuries and death factors with the percentage of increase from 2019 to 2020.
- Speeding – up to 11%
- Weekends – up to 9%
- Involvement of alcohol – up to 9%
- Single vehicle – up to 9%
- Rural roads – up to 11%
- Rollover crashes – up to 9%
- Urban expressways – up to 15%
- Urban local – up to 12%
Avoiding An Auto Accident
Due to the increased percentage of motor vehicle accidents, you must know the things you must do to keep yourself safe.
- Always wear a seat belt.
- Don’t rush on your travel. Schedule it accordingly for you to have enough time to drive safely to your destination.
- Avoid being distracted by other things while driving. Always concentrate on the road.
- Don’t take away your attention to your surroundings. You should be aware of other vehicles, pedestrians, and possible road hazards.
- Always keep calm and control your emotions when you are involved in road rage.
- Keep a safe distance from the car in front. Mind other vehicles near you as well.
- Stay away from speeding drivers. Let them pass by switching lanes or slowing down.
- If you encountered a driver that seems mad at you, stay away, let him pass, and don’t make eye contact.
- Don’t drive on expressways or other high-speed roads if you are not confident.
- Make sure to have enough rest before driving on long trips.
- Don’t drive when you feel tired and drowsy.
Importance Seat Belts To Avoid Car Accidents During COVID-19 Pandemic
With the implementation of lockdown in different places, motor vehicle accidents increased as well. There are fewer cars on the road and some people are being reckless because of this. Many car accidents have resulted in driver and passenger ejection which translates to a higher number of MVA injuries and death cases. These accidents could have been avoided if the drivers know the importance of seat belts. It could save lives and it’s a fact. Many countries made it a law that requires their citizens to wear seat belts. With the growing number of reckless drivers on the road during the pandemic, an accident could happen anytime. You should always protect yourself and your passengers by wearing seat belts.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Orange County, you could be entitled to claims that will cover all your expenses and damages. Freeway Law Personal Injury Lawyers could help you throughout the complex process of claiming. Call us at (844) 443-7339 for a free initial consultation.