The COVID-19 quarantine has the majority of Americans staying home and staying safe. On the roads, though, there seems to be a different story. While traffic is down, serious accidents and reckless driving are on the rise. What can you do to ensure your safety while driving during a more hazardous and uncertain time?
Traffic down, accidents up
During quarantine, traffic on main roads has dropped by nearly 40% according to transportation data firm Inrix. Some roads are even reporting up to a 70% reduction in traffic. Still, deserted roads don’t necessarily mean safer roads. In fact, they’re actually proving more dangerous.
Since the isolation has begun, people are speeding up to 27% more, braking harder by 25%, and using their phones while driving 38% more frequently. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported some of the following findings:
- Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, and Utah noted a surge in vehicles clocking in at or above 100mph
- Though Massachusetts has 50% reduction in traffic, fatalities doubled in April 2020
- Rhode Island and Nevada are showing an increase in pedestrian fatalities (highest since 1988)
- NYC speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets on March 27, double tickets issued that day a month prior
- Minnesota has seen double the accidents and fatalities than previous years; half of fatalities related to reckless or negligent driving
People aren’t on the roads as much, but when they are, it’s more dangerous than before.
What’s the cause of this?
It’s hard to determine just one cause of why accidents are on the rise, despite the reduced traffic with the quarantine. A few theories:
- Some people are drag racing and holding speed competitions on empty roads “for fun” and out of boredom, which is very dangerous for those drivers and others. (Never drag race on streets unless it’s sanctioned.)
- People are feeling more anxious and stressed due to the COVID-19 scare. Their minds are more preoccupied, so they’re less aware and focused on the road.
- Some might believe they can get away with being more reckless if law enforcement is “too busy” elsewhere.
- They might be using it to stave off boredom or as an emotional release.
There should be no excuse for unsafe driving, though. It’s important to remember that automobiles are still large, moving machinery with the potential to kill. It’s not worth taking a risk with your or someone else’s life out of boredom or negligence.
How to stay safe on the roads after staying at home
If the roads are less safe, it’s your job to protect yourself. We don’t have control of what other drivers do, but you can still take steps to protect yourself and your family.
Note: Did you know that careless driving can affect your auto insurance? Driving violations and accidents can cause your premiums to go up, which means more expensive coverage! The safer you are, the safer your wallet is.
- Wear a seat belt. Always.
- Obey all speed limits and signs. Driving fast dramatically increases your risk of a serious accident.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Not only is it illegal, but you also want to be especially alert and aware with reckless drivers on the road.
- Drive with your headlights on at night and in bad weather. Headlights increase car’s visibility up to 4x the distance.
- Always look in all directions before going at a green light. Some people might run red lights at high speeds, which can create serious accidents in the intersection.
- Never use your phone while driving. We highly recommend even keeping your phone away while you’re at a red light, so you can stay alert to the cars and pedestrians around you. You can even download apps that prevent phone usage while driving (this is especially useful for teen drivers).
- Expect that other drivers will make mistakes. Drive defensively.
- Take an online defensive driving course. A lot of state DMVs, like New York, offer free or low-cost defensive driving courses for their citizens.
- Leave early for your appointment. Don’t speed to get somewhere on time. Better to arrive slow than not at all.
- As speed increases, so does braking distance. The faster you go, the larger the space you need between you and the car in front of you for braking. Keep more space in between you and other cars.
- Know your blind spots. Always check before switching lanes.
- Don’t drive tired or stressed. Drowsy driving can impair your ability the same as drunk driving! So if you’re feeling the emotional effects of the isolation, don’t let it out on the road. Ask someone else to drive you, get delivery, or meditate before getting in the car.
- Check out more safe driving tips here.
Most importantly, during this uncertain time, be especially vigilant of aggressive or reckless drivers nearby. The more aware you are on the road, the better (and faster) you can respond to other drivers who aren’t as cautious or safe as you.
Driving responsibly could mean the difference for your life… and at the very least, your auto insurance premiums. Stay safe and healthy on the roads and in your homes.
If you’re feeling uncertain about protecting your car, home, assets, and family with insurance during this time, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our insurance advisors.
Interested in saving on your auto insurance? Give one of our expert insurance advisors a call to compare quotes today at (844) 300-3364!
Not by the phone? Compare real auto insurance quotes online in minutes with our quote tool: