Road Traffic Accidents During Coronavirus Lockdowns
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us in multiple ways. Across California, families have faced financial burdens, medical crises, and the emotional stress that comes with these changes. Mandated lockdowns, shutdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and other restrictions have occurred off and on for an entire year now. These measures have been incredibly stressful for families confined in homes that sometimes feel just a little too small.
Some experts have predicted that as stressful as these lockdowns are, they would reduce the number of auto accidents by limiting the amount of traffic on the roads.
Unfortunately, these predictions did not prove accurate. While there was some good news, it’s important to keep in mind that many people suffered injuries in car accidents during lockdown, and people continue to get hurt in crashes despite pandemic-related restrictions.
Fortunately, the California car accident lawyers of Arash Law are here to help. If you’ve suffered injuries in a wreck, call us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.
Did Road Accidents Decrease During COVID-19 Lockdown Orders?
A study on this very issue was recently published by Accident Analysis and Prevention, a peer-reviewed journal that publishes scholarly research on preventing injuries. Researchers found a significant reduction in road traffic accidents resulting in minor or no injuries during COVID-19 lockdown orders. However, there was not a significant reduction in accidents resulting in serious or fatal injuries during these same periods. Once these lockdown orders expired, the researchers found that accidents resulting in minor or no injuries increased once again.
These data indicate that lockdown orders had only a small impact on reducing road injuries – and that almost no impact most serious injuries and deaths. The Associated Press reports similar findings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA compared fatality rates in the first nine months of 2020 with fatality rates during the same period in 2019. Despite various lockdown orders across the country, traffic deaths increased by 4.6 percent in 2020. This finding, too, confirms that lockdown orders did not decrease traffic fatalities in the United States.
Why have road fatalities continued to stay high even when there is less overall traffic on the roads? A director of the Governors Highway Safety Association told the AP that speeding seems to be a huge factor. Many drivers began to speed on more open roadways as lockdown orders reduced traffic, then continued speeding even as traffic returned to the roads.
Many states also reported a reduction in traffic stops during COVID-19. Studies have consistently found that a lack of enforcement increases the number of drivers who speed, so it is not surprising that speeding has contributed to road deaths in 2020, even when there is less traffic on the roads.
Other risky driving behaviors have also increased: before the pandemic, 50.6 percent of drivers treated at trauma centers for serious auto accident injuries had drugs or alcohol in their systems. In 2020 the number was up to 65 percent. This increase in drunk driving could also be due to a lack of enforcement or a result of drivers turning to substance abuse as a method of coping with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of the reasons, risky driving behaviors increase the likelihood that you will be seriously injured – or killed – in a traffic accident.
What Will Happen When Coronavirus Restrictions Are Lifted Completely?
No one knows for sure what will happen on California’s roads once the pandemic is under control and governments lift restrictions. On the one hand, there will likely be many jobs that remain entirely remote, and this could reduce the amount of traffic on your daily commute. But more remote work does not necessarily mean that there will be fewer accidents.
Some drivers might continue the risky driving behaviors that caused so many road deaths during lockdown. Speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving will continue to endanger all road users. These risks are just some of the reasons that everyone needs to choose safe driving habits – and be on the lookout for other drivers who are not making safe choices.
What Should California Drivers Do After COVID-19 Restrictions Expire?
So what can California drivers do to reduce the risk of being in an accident after coronavirus lockdown orders (and other legal restrictions) expire? First, use caution when getting back on the road. If you have not been driving as often during the COVID-19 pandemic, your driving skills could be a little rusty.
Even if your driving skills are sharp, you could be surrounded by other drivers who have not been on the road in months. Give everyone plenty of time and space to navigate safely through traffic. Do not get impatient with uncertain drivers, and resist the temptation to tailgate slower vehicles.
Another tip: the less you drive, the less likely it is that you will be involved in an auto accident. Many of us were able to drive less during the coronavirus pandemic. If you can continue driving less often, this, too, will improve your odds of avoiding collisions.
One of the most important things a driver can do to reduce the risk of an accident and the severity of injuries that people sustain in a crash is incredibly simple: slow down! The National Safety Council reports that speed was a factor in 26 percent of all fatal accidents reported in the United States in 2018. This statistic means that one in four deaths on the road was related to speed.
Slowing down could save thousands of lives every year. Speed increases the amount of stopping distance you need to avoid a collision, which means that you have less time to react to successfully avoid the obstacle in the roadway. Speed also increases the force generated in a collision, which in turn causes more serious damage to the vehicles and more serious injuries to the people involved in an accident. Reducing speed is one of the most important things drivers can do to stay safe while on the road.
How Can I Protect My Legal Rights After Being Injured In A Car Crash?
The most important thing you can do to protect your legal rights is to contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. Anything you say or do can be used against you by the other driver’s insurance company. As soon as they learn that you have an attorney, all communications about the accident must go throughout your lawyer’s office, so it is important to get a lawyer as soon as possible.
Insurance companies can use even things you say in shock at the scene of the accident against you. You should not discuss what happened to cause the accident, or who was at fault, or discuss other legal matters. You can – and should – coordinate emergency medical treatment for anyone who needs it. You should also cooperate with officers who respond to the scene. Answer all their questions and provide your insurance information if requested.
Once you have an injury attorney, the insurance company is no longer allowed to contact you, but they can still obtain information about your case if you make it public. This fact is why it is so important not to post anything about your accident or injuries on social media. Large insurance companies have skilled investigators who are highly skilled at getting information.
If you post anything about the accident, the investigators will find it, and the insurance company is likely to twist it and try to use it against you. Suppose you have a painful knee injury.
It has kept you out of work, it keeps you up at night, and you cannot play with your children due to your pain. But then the insurance company finds out that you have posted a gym selfie online.
Now, they are trying to say that your knee couldn’t possibly hurt that bad if you can work out. Even if you were staying off your knee entirely, the insurance company could deny your claim or make a low settlement offer on this basis. And if you decided to take your case to trial, the insurance company could try to use that photo to make it look like you are lying about your injuries. It is much better if you simply post as little as possible until your injury claim has come to a conclusion.
Call Us Today To Speak With A California Car Accident Lawyer
You could spend hours searching online for “car crash lawyers near me,” but the best auto accident attorneys in California are right here at Arash Law. Our skilled car crash lawyers have decades of experience. We have collected over 200 million dollars for clients in San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California.
Injury victims across the state trust us to protect their legal rights. Let us fight for the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on making the best recovery possible from your injuries. Call (888) 488-1391 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a car accident attorney in California.