Since April, when the stay-at-home order went into effect, injury and fatality collisions in Florida have been reduced by four percent.
A simultaneous observation to that of reduction in injury crashes is that there were fewer people treated in hospitals for crash-related injuries. Indirectly, the decline in traffic accidents also helped hospitals cope with the pandemic more effectively by freeing up vital resources.
Florida isn’t the only state that registered a reduced number of collisions and fatality rates during the lockdown. Eight other states have seen notable decreases in roadway deaths: Tennessee with 58 percent, Wyoming with 52 percent, Mississippi with 21 percent, Maryland with 18 percent, Michigan, South Carolina and Pennsylvania with 13 percent each and Arizona with 10 percent.
Also, nationwide, according to estimates from the National Safety Council (NSC), in March, April and May – the months when most of the country was deep in quarantine from the pandemic – there was a 12 percent drop in the total number of roadway deaths compared to the same period in 2019.
How much money was saved by these reductions in traffic accidents and fatalities? Looking just at California, since the order went into effect, the savings to the public reached about $40 million a day.
6 States Saw High Increases in Car Accident Fatality Rates
However, NSC estimates show that at least in six other states, while there was far less traffic on the roads during the lockdown or an overall decrease in the number of crashes, the rate of fatalities per miles driven actually increased relative to statistics from previous years.
For example, in Minnesota, between March and April 2020 there was a 45 percent increase in fatal crashes over the same period in 2019. Even Massachusetts registered in March 2020 a rate of 38 percent of traffic collisions involving an injury, compared to the same period in 2019, when the rate was 33 percent.
According to NSC, the following six states experienced the most notable increases in the number of roadway deaths during the lockdown: New Hampshire with 63 percent, Connecticut with 39 percent, Louisiana with 15 percent, Missouri with 12 percent, Arkansas with 10 percent and North Carolina with 6 percent.
The Coronavirus Pandemic Influences Motor Vehicle Fatality Rates
In some U.S. states, the reduced number of collisions can be linked to the stay-at-home order. For example, in California reports found that traffic volumes were up to 55% lower on certain highways compared to a similar period before the shelter-in-place order.
In addition, some roadway tactics approved nationwide or in several states to respond to the pandemic had their share of influence. For example, federal regulators have relaxed hours of service rules for commercial vehicle drivers or repealed requirements for teen drivers to pass road tests before acquiring licenses.
A truck driver could drive a maximum of 11 hours in a day, but in March, the rules were suspended for truckers who were transporting critical supplies, such as medical equipment or food. The loosening of the rules may have made some drivers push the limits of safety.
“Reports reveal some intriguing and useful insight into the nature of road use and driving during this extraordinary time,” says Sean M. Cleary, an experienced Miami car accident lawyer. “While the expected trend was for accidents to fall significantly, drivers might have gotten used to driving faster and more recklessly.”
Will the coronavirus pandemic permanently change the way we use the roads? The stay-at-home orders have encouraged remote working. Ultimately, nationwide, this amounts to fewer commuters, fewer travelers on often crowded roads and hopefully, fewer collisions and fatalities.
About the author: Sean M. Cleary is a personal injury attorney, founder, and president of the Miami, Florida-based The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary. Sean is a highly proficient lawyer that offers his help to individuals who have incurred serious, life-altering injuries during motor vehicle accidents.