Driving During a Pandemic: Fewer Cars on the Road, but More Fatal Accidents

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted all aspects of our lives this year, from where and when we work to our plans to celebrate the holidays. The pandemic also has impacted the way we drive. In a recent study published in the Journal of Accident Analysis & Prevention, researchers examined traffic collision records from Missouri from January through May of this year to see how statewide lockdowns impacted driving patterns.

It may come as no surprise that researchers found that during the lockdown period there were fewer car collisions involving no injuries or non-serious injuries. However, the lockdown had no impact on the number of collisions resulting in serious or fatal injuries. Indeed, preliminary data released from the National Safety Council found that nationwide the rate of fatal traffic crashes actually increased by 20 percent during the first six months of 2020—despite a 13 percent reduction in the number of miles being driven.

Theories vary as to why fatal crashes appear to have increased during the same time period that people were driving less and experiencing fewer collisions overall. However, experts have expressed the concern that fewer cars on the road has resulted in an increase in risky behaviors, such as speeding or distracted driving. In response to this new data, the National Safety Council is reminding drivers that speed limits apply regardless of how many vehicles on the road. Drivers also should keep in mind that during warmer weather there may be more pedestrians and cyclists on the roadway.  Drivers also should obey all traffic rules and always wear a seatbelt while in a vehicle.

Now is also a good time to evaluate your automobile insurance to make sure you are covered if you are involved in a collision. There are two types of insurance that cover injuries caused in a collision: liability and underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. Liability insurance covers injuries suffered by other people if you cause the collision. Underinsured/uninsured coverage guarantees that if someone else causes the collision you will have a minimum amount of coverage for any injuries. Many policies also have med-pay coverage, a type of no-fault coverage, that pays qualified medical expenses regardless of who causes the collision. The best way to make sure you are adequately protected is to contact your insurance agent to review your coverage.

Bolen Robinson & Ellis, LLP