The Surprising Ways COVID Made U.S. Drivers More Dangerous

by Staff | July 5th, 2021

In March 2020, governments worldwide instigated nationwide lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic. People stayed home, traffic lessened, and there were fewer cars on the roads. The National Highway Safety Administration reported traffic deaths decreased by 2% in the first six months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. After June 2020, the data showed a significant shift.

As traffic volumes decreased, the deaths per mile increased by 31%. Although staying home kept many people safe, the pandemic created unexpected dangers for people on the roads.

6 Surprising Ways Covid Made U.S. Drivers More Dangerous

The statewide lockdowns eased traffic in the early months of 2020. The open roads and the emotional state of drivers during the height of the pandemic influenced how people drove, making some drivers reckless.

●      Speeding

Since the number of cars on the road was lower during the COVID-19 pandemic, vast stretches of highways and streets were empty. The lockdowns also removed more risk-averse drivers who previously contributed to safer streets.

With fewer cars on the road, more people began speeding, putting other drivers, pedestrians, and themselves in danger. Many police departments around the country decreased the number of police officers patrolling the streets because of the lockdowns and for their safety. The reduced police presence and less traffic made for a deadly combination.

The California Highway Patrol noted an increase in speeding by 87% from March to April 2020. In San Francisco, unsafe speeding was the most common factor in fatal car collisions.

●      Impaired Driving

Lockdowns disrupted many people’s daily lives and routines. According to public health officials, some people began using drugs and drinking more alcohol to cope with stress, boredom, and anxiety.

64.7% of fatal car accidents involved at least one drug in the victims’ systems. Around the country, alcohol and drugs were contributing factors to an increase in car accidents.

●      Distracted Driving

Lengthy lockdowns made people more likely to be distracted while driving. After not driving for several months, it takes time to get back into defensive driving habits.

●      Pedestrian Accidents

In 2020, the U.S. saw 2,957 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents, roughly a 20% increase from 2019. This number is particularly troubling when you consider there were far fewer drivers on the streets in 2020.

●      Increase in Aggressive Driving

The stress, anxiety, and depression from the COVID-19 pandemic can affect drivers’ mental state, leading to increased aggressive driving and disrespect for other drivers and pedestrians on the road. With more aggressive driving, there is an increased possibility of accidents and injuries.

●      Fewer People Wearing Seatbelts

22,215 vehicle occupants were killed in 2019 U.S. car accidents, and of those, 47% were not wearing a seatbelt. It’s evident that seatbelts save lives, but unfortunately, in 2020, fewer drivers in the U.S. buckled up, potentially contributing to increased fatality rates.

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, between March 17, 2020, and July 18, 2020, 40.8% of drivers drove unbelted, compared to just 24.6% the previous quarter.

How to Stay Safe on the Streets During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide decreases and vaccination rates steadily increase, it’s inevitable that more drivers return to the roads. After long periods of inactivity, boredom, and staying home, some drivers may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors on the road.

Take steps to protect yourself and your family when driving by being wary of other drives on the road. You can drive defensively by anticipating the moves of other drivers and being aware of your surroundings at all times. Be on the lookout for drivers who speed, weave between lanes, or run red lights and stop signs.

Despite your best efforts, accidents can still occur due to negligence by another driver. If you’re  injured in a collision due to a driver’s reckless actions, our San Francisco car accident lawyers can help you file a claim for compensation.

Work With an Experienced California Car Accident Attorney

Many people have lost their lives during the pandemic, and tragically some of these losses are due to vehicle accidents. If you are involved in an auto accident, our car accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers can provide you with a no-cost review of your case so that you can hold a reckless driver accountable and fight for the compensation you deserve.