Changing Gears What the Pandemic Has Done to Change American Roads

Changing Gears: What the Pandemic Has Done to Change American Roads

Traffic accidents are a major problem in the United States, as crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. citizens aged 1 to 54, according to the justify for Disease Control and Prevention. The leading causes of these traffic fatalities include distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding. However, the recent pandemic, and the statewide lockdowns it created, have changed the way America’s traffic situation significantly.

Fatal Car Crashes Plummeted in the Most States

At least 20 U.S. states saw remarkable drops in fatal car crashes when the pandemic started. California, a state known for traffic deaths, saw an 84 percent decrease in incidents in May. The highway patrol captain stated that this is because people have been heeding the state’s call to forgo going out and driving unless they absolutely need to. The report found similar results in other states, like Michigan and Illinois.

The drop in car accidents was so significant that some insurers were generous enough to give refunds to customers. The drop in the number of cars on the road has been a boon not just for ordinary residents, but also for first responders. They get to respond to calls sooner and save more lives.

The Problem with Open Roads

Clear roads during the stay at home period, however, weren’t always beneficial. The National Safety Council (NSC) found that year-on-year fatality rates actually increased in March, according to its early data. The death rate per 100 million miles driven was 1.22 in March 2020, which was a jump from March 2019’s death rate of 1.07.

States, like Oklahoma and Minnesota, have seen spikes in traffic fatalities since the pandemic started as well. The reason behind these spike in fatalities, according to the NSC, was mostly overspeeding. The CEO of the organization stated that open lanes of traffic “caused open season on reckless driving.”

Because of these instances, the NSC recommended that drives practice defensive driving to keep people safe on the open road. After all, accidents can happen when you least expect them.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when taking the wheel during your next supply run.

Keep an eye on hazards – You should consistently stay alert during your drive to avoid possible collisions. Always sit straight to see more of the road, and if there are potential hazards, change lanes if you can or slow down completely. Use your mirrors to check vehicles behind you for possible risks.

Keep distractions to a minimum – Keep distractions to a bare minimum. Don’t use your cellphone or even look at it while you’re driving. You shouldn’t multitask like eat, put on makeup, or even smoke while doing this task. If possible, reserve banter and conversations with people in your car until you’ve reached a stopover or the end of your journey.

Stay awake and sober – Don’t drive when you’re sleepy. Get a full seven to nine hours of sleep before your journey. And even if you’re confident, never take the wheel under the influence of alcohol. Although a good DUI attorney could get you out of a lawsuit, the property and possible physical damages to you and the people you hit in a drunk driving crash can be severe.

The recent stay-at-home orders have created a weird situation for America’s roads. For one, they seem safer in some states because fewer cars are on them. On the other hand, other states are experiencing a spike in traffic incidents because people think they can speed up because the roads are clear.

Whether you’re running an errand or heading to work, practice defensive driving even if it is tempting to zip through the open road.

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