As many Californians are staying home to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus, those who are on the roads during this time have found themselves facing unexpected freedom. Traffic has decreased in busy thoroughfares nationwide, and for those of us used to sitting in rush hour traffic, there’s nothing better than seeing an open road ahead.
Some locals are now acting as if traffic jams, rather than common sense, were the only things preventing extremely dangerous driving, according to the California Highway Patrol. Reckless drivers have been clocked at up to 165 miles per hour across the state. And, the number of tickets issued to drivers going in excess of 100 mph has increased 87% over this period last year, with cops citing nearly 2,500 people in just the first month of the lockdown. Though these speeders are likely to face severe criminal penalties including license suspensions, the question is what will catch up with them first: the cops, or a car accident? Those of us who care for our (and others’) safety can only hope it’s the former.
Car Accidents Are Down—But Not As Much As They Should Be
UC Davis researchers tracking traffic patterns since the statewide shutdown started on March 19th have noticed a 50% decrease in vehicle collisions reported by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). However, that trend might not hold steady if data from all local law enforcement offices were added. Nationwide, while traffic has dropped around 40%, accidents are only down 20%. A report by driver tracking firm Zendrive estimates that by miles traveled, the nation’s drivers may be experiencing 20% more collisions. Either Californians are safer drivers than other states—unlikely, given the increase in speeding tickets given lately—or accidents haven’t decreased as much in areas not under CHP jurisdiction.
Road safety experts have also noted that, while traffic incidents have declined, the increase in speeding drivers means collisions are likely to be much more serious when they happen. The goal of the shutdowns is to decrease patient load so emergency rooms and intensive care treatment centers do not become overwhelmed. High-speed wrecks are likely to result in additional patients for them—if they don’t result in death.
Driver Distraction Has Also Increased
Though we’ve been asked to keep physical distance from others, our mobile phones have helped us stay in touch with loved ones despite the lockdown. They are also a source of information about the coronavirus, with new data, analysis, and opinions popping up in alerts and crossing our social feeds every hour. Unfortunately, whether for these reasons or others, drivers have increased their phone use. By mid-April, Zendrive found a 38% increase in people interacting with their devices while behind the wheel.
Distracted driving isn’t a new danger by any means, but more distractions will result in more accidents, especially in conjunction with the rise in speeding. Even for those drivers who do the right thing and silence their phones while they’re in the car, the excess stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is a distraction of its own. Perhaps the speeding and phone use are both signs of the pressure most Americans are facing, but drivers must realize they are putting others in danger if they let their focus stray.
Legal Help for Pandemic Car Accident Victims
Anyone who has been injured by a negligent or reckless driver likely has legal recourse and shouldn’t let their opportunity for compensation pass by. Especially in an uncertain economy, having a financial cushion to help with your recovery is extremely important. Our car accident attorneys can provide legal support and guidance if you are looking for a fair settlement.
Even during the shutdowns, our law firm has stayed fully operational by switching to remote work. We can provide free consultations and start your case via phone, email, and videoconferencing. If you have been injured, it’s important to seek legal help before the insurance company tries to take advantage of you. Our team is focused on getting the results you deserve after a bad car accident.
Call Del Rio & Caraway, P.C. at (916) 229-6755 to schedule your free consultation or drop us a message online.