2020 has certainly been an extraordinary year. From pandemic to political upheaval, there have been many events that are changing our communities, our country, and our way of life. Driving, road habits, and traffic patterns are no exception in this extraordinary time. Recent patterns in how we travel on our roads and highways are changing from what we have experienced in the past. As we move into the second half of this significant year, we’re looking back at the impacts to our nation’s roadways over the first six months and considering what impacts may be to come.
2020 Driving Trends: Effects on Traffic, Accidents, & Fatalities
The first half of this year has seen changes in density, accident rates, causes of fatalities, and trucking patterns. There are also some trends that have emerged more slowly over the years, leading up to the present, and we are seeing continuations of these patterns.
With COVID-19 quarantine measures and lockdowns, we have seen a steep decrease in traffic density in the early months of this year. In fact, you can see from USDOT’s Office of Highway Policy Information April 2020 Report just how much traffic volume decreased. Texas, as part of the South Gulf area actually experienced the slightest decrease of any region – although the region still dropped by 35.9%!
Understandably, with the reduction in traffic volume, came reductions in accident rates. However, a less anticipated repercussion of the empty roads was that speeding rates increased dramatically. What analysts found was that drivers who were out for essential work or errands on the relatively clear roads were taking advantage to race through town. This meant that while there were fewer accidents, many of those that occurred were particularly injurious because of high speeds at impact.
In NHTSA’s 2020 Report the organization articulated the concept of the “Accident Iceberg.” The model demonstrates that for each single traffic accident fatality, there are 18 hospitalizations and over 400 medically attended injuries. This shows that even a small number of speeding-related fatalities that we hear about on our roads and highways is truly just the tip of the iceberg to the true magnitude of traffic tragedy.
From the American Trucking Association’s 2020 analysis, in 2017, there were 36 million trucks registered and used for business purposes. This number excluded trucks used for government and farming equipment. It included 3.68 million Class 8 vehicles, including tractor-trailers and dump trucks. In 2017, all registered trucks traveled 297.6 billion miles, and combination trucks, like 19-wheelers, traveled 181.5 billion miles. In the same report it was published that in 2018 there were 3.5 million truck drivers employed in the United States.
Per the Federal Highway Administration’s 2020 report, the percentage of teenagers who hold a driver’s license has declined fairly steadily over the past forty years, apart from a slight uptick after 2014. In 1983, 46.2% of 16-year-olds held a driver’s license, while in 2018, only 25.6% of 16-year-olds held a driver’s license.
According to Statista’s 2020 reporting, in the first quarter of 2019, about 276 million vehicles were operating on America’s roads. It will be fascinating to finalize accurate numbers from the first and second quarter of 2020 comparatively, in the coming months.
2020 Driving Trends: Effects on Industry and Claims
Apart from changes in driving patterns and driver statistics, industries related to transportation are experiencing effects as well. The insurance industry from auto insurers to healthcare insurers will likely go through significant changes. We have already seen a slow down in insurance adjuster processing and responsiveness due to lockdown conditions and strain on the healthcare system. Industry layoffs have been predicted, and other analysts have wondered if insurers will be more willing to negotiate fairly to operate expeditiously through this unprecedented period. Time will tell how the industry, and the customers, will fare.
The trucking industry will also see changes throughout this time. From increases in demand for consumer goods shipped to individual homes, to change in demand for shipments to brick & mortar locations, to the rollback of safety measures due to national emergency, to logistical support for our medical institutions, the ground transport we rely on is weathering big changes at this time.
While 2020 has seen a slowdown in many sectors, construction has remained more stable. City improvements and private projects continue, and in some cases have benefited by the lighter traffic of isolation periods. This essential work has in some cases operated at a faster pace due to fewer distractions and complications from traffic and commerce. On-the-job construction accidents remain a risk during this period, as site dangers remain. Heavy machinery and equipment, weather conditions, visibility concerns, and sometimes unpredictable conditions can all contribute to serious accident and injury.
Looking Ahead to the Second Half of 2020
Annual traffic trend predictions typically anticipate an increase in dangerous roadway activity in the latter half of the year. The return to increased traffic as school goes in session, the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and the return of bad weather that drivers need to readjust to after the warmer and temperate months all contribute to increases in accidents. Time will tell if these patterns persist as we adjust to the “new normal” of 2020.
In addition to traffic trends, a sector that may be particularly challenged in the second half of the year is the health insurance industry. This could have an important impact on your personal injury claim. Insurers are already slow to process claims, dragging their feet before denying them altogether. These tendencies may be exacerbated by a system weighed down with healthcare services rendered for COVID-19 patient care. A global pandemic is clearly grounds for a bogged down medical system, including facilities, providers, and insurers. However, don’t let systemic events impact your individual financial position and well-being. Partner with an experienced personal injury firm like Thompson Law to get the claim settlement results you deserve.
Thompson Law: DFW’s Best Auto Accident Legal Resource
Auto accidents in 2020 have specific circumstances that require specialized expertise to handle. Thompson Law is here for you when you need us. With trends forecasted for the year, we are likely to be seeing more auto accidents like car crashes, truck wrecks, commercial vehicle collisions, and others, in the second half of 2020. If you have the misfortune to be hit by a distracted, drunk, or just plain negligent driver, you deserve to have representation and legal resources on your side.
Thompson Law is a full-service personal injury firm based in Dallas, TX led by Ryan The Lion Thompson. We have a reputation for taking personal injury cases all the way to court – and winning. If you are in need of attorney representation after an accident, you should seek out a firm that has skill and tenacity to take your case as far as it may need to go.
Call Thompson Law today for a free, no-risk consultation about any motor vehicle, workplace, or other personal injury accident you have experienced in the last two years. Our experts are standing by 24/7/365 to take your call. When you chose to retain our services, you pay no fee upfront, and you don’t pay a single penny unless we win your case. What have you got to lose?
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The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Texas is two years, so if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in the first half of 2020, the clock is ticking to file a claim, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The sooner you know your options, the sooner you are on the path to recovery and your deserved compensation.