Early in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic when states began to impose lockdowns, traffic nearly came to a halt on many highways and smaller roads. With drivers stuck at home, it seemed that car accidents would decrease. Since the pandemic started, there are fewer accidents, but a higher rate of them are fatal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a study that looked into traffic density and accident statistics. The NHSTA released information that compared traffic patterns from January 2019 to September 2020, which showed a significant decrease in the amount of trips each year. The data showed that approximately 1.46 billion trips were taken in April 2019, while less than 900 million were taken in April 2020. The difference of more than 560 million represents a decrease of more than 38 percent.
In May and June 2020, the amount of trips taken decreased. When lockdowns arrived in March 2020, the percentage of drivers staying home reached 24 percent. In April 2020, there was a spike of 28.1 percent. Rates began to stabilize in May 2020 to September.
Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Driving Habits?
Based on NHTSA data, drivers are taking more risks. The study analyzed data from 2019 and 2020. By comparing the two years, researchers can see a clearer view of how driving behaviors have been affected.
The study revealed data from certain states that saw an increase in accidents, and defined Period 1 as dates between March 17, 2020 and July 18, 2020. Period 2 relates to dates between July 19, 2020 and September 30, 2020. When looking at driving behavior differences, the report contrasts these two periods by referencing data collected between September 10, 2019 and March 16, 2020 to compare pre-COVID-19 trends. According to the data, drivers were most likely to exhibit dangerous driving behaviors during early lockdowns. The alarming trend remained elevated throughout September.
Which Dangerous Driving Behaviors Increased During the Pandemic?
Early in the pandemic, motorists who ventured out to drive took risks that endangered their safety as well as the safety of those around them. The NHTSA study of motor vehicle accidents indicates that drivers during the spring throughout early fall were taking risks at higher rates than the year earlier. The unsafe driving behaviors that were most common were motorists who opted out of wearing their seat belt, speeding, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Failure to Wear Seat Belts
The data shows that only 78.1 percent of drivers and 75.4 percent of passengers wore seat belts in the pre-COVID-19 time period. During mid-March to mid-July 2020, the percentage decreased to 71.6 percent among drivers and 59.2 percent among passengers. In mid-July through September 2020, 74.7 percent of drivers and 66.7 percent of passengers were not wearing seat belts.
The ejection rate was also analyzed during the examined time period. Drivers who wear seat belts are far less likely to be ejected from their vehicles upon impact. The study found that ejection rates were significantly higher once COVID-19 started compared to the statistics from a year earlier.
The NHTSA study referenced information from several earlier studies by the Federal Highway Administration, the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology, and others. Experts indicate that there was a 22 percent increase in speeding instances in metropolitan areas.
The accident data included in the study showed that nearly two-thirds of drivers were found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol between mid-March and mid-July 2020. Drivers tested positive for alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and other substances. During the following months, the percentage of drivers who tested positive for opioids nearly doubled, and the percentage of those under the influence of marijuana increased by approximately 50 percent.
Why are These Statistics Important?
The NHTSA data shows that car accidents are still prevalent, even though there may be less drivers on the roads. All motorists should remain cautious and abide by traffic laws, including the posted speed limits.
If one is involved in an accident with a negligent driver, it is wise to consult with a lawyer. A car accident lawyer will help their client with a personal injury claim. Depending on the case, an injured car accident victim may be able to collect compensation for their catastrophic injuries.
Highland Park Personal Injury Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Represent Car Crash Victims During the Ongoing Pandemic
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a negligent motorist, you are likely eligible for compensation. A Highland Park personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help you build your case and secure your future. Complete our online form or call us at 732-249-4600 for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.