COVID-19 Shuttered Cities See Decreases in Automobile Accidents, but Spikes in Speeding

During this time of limited movement and activity, you may be surprised to find yourself in need of an attorney for personal injury. Life is complicated enough at the moment, and the last thing you need is one more source of stress, like a lengthy and fruitless battle with an insurance company. Fortunately, the team at Thompson Law is here for you. We continue to provide our full range of personal injury legal services and to take on new clients at this time. And as always, we operate on a contingency fee basis, so we don’t make one penny unless and until you win your case. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, reach out anytime.

Crashes: While Density is Down, Speeding is Up

While the United States experienced a nationwide shut down for COVID-19, towns, cities and metroplexes with famously dense traffic are seeing the most striking increases in roadway speeds. Leading traffic analytics firm, INRIX, has reported that highway speeds in major US cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, IL have reached speeds 75% higher than they would have in the usual pre-pandemic traffic. The Governors Highway Safety Association has found similar results. New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. has seen in increase in speed and traffic violations due to the largely empty roadways. As early as March 27th, the impacts to the emptied roadways was evidenced by the doubling of street camera traffic tickets issued in the city that day compared to the year before.

In less densely packed locales, drivers are also taking the opportunity to put the pedal to the metal. In fact, Iowa State Patrol reported citing over 170 people for topping 100mph speeds over the last month! And, a motorist in a small city in Georgia was reported to have been racing at 172mph!

The Minnesota Star Tribune published an article illuminating the staggering speeding fatality statistics they are seeing during the quarantine period:

The 24 fatal crashes since [Governor Tim] Walz’s order accounted for 28 deaths, the data further disclosed. That compares with 13 last year, 15 in 2018 and 17 in 2017.

Half of those 28 deaths were related to motorists who were speeding or to careless or negligent driving, according to the Traffic Safety office.

“Traffic may be reduced on Minnesota roads during this challenging time, but the number of road fatalities is rising,” said a representative from the Traffic Safety office.

stats

Source: Wall Street Journal Instagram

Contributing Risks: Combined with Speeding, these Factors Add to Present Dangers

In addition to drivers taking advantage of cleared roadways to see how fast they can go, there are a few other contributing factors to the risk of collision and increasingly dangerous behavior at this time.

Pedestrians: As people face limited options for unwinding in free time, and the spring weather continues to improve, more and more people are finding their way outdoors for exercise, hobbies, or simply a change of pace from being inside their homes.

“We do have fewer car crashes right now, because there are fewer cars,” said Jacque Knight, a St. Louis-based traffic planner. “But the crashes we do have are likely to be more severe because speed is the biggest determinant of serious injury and mortality — especially for pedestrians.”

Trucking Road-Time Restrictions Eased: We previously wrote about this action taken by the FMCSA following the declaration of a national emergency. The crux of the issue is that crucial medical supplies and personnel are required all over the country – urgently and immediately. In order to expedite shipping and remove hindrances to delivery speed, the easing of road time limits allows drivers transporting this critical cargo to forego necessary stops and breaks. While fast delivery of these essential supplies is important, we can only hope that it does not come at the cost of innocent lives, as fatigued truckers speed down the highway with extremely heavy loads and weary senses.

Police are Being Ordered to Make Fewer Traffic Stops: Departments throughout the country have taken a more lenient stance on more minor violations, including lesser traffic citations. The tolerance is designed to help limit police interaction with the public in efforts to comply with safe social distancing. While not all official communications by department leaders make the leniency policy public, it seems word has gotten out. Drivers all over the nation are taking advantage of the opportunity and speeding up.

Thompson Law takes our client’s cases very seriously. Particularly in cases where a pedestrian has been hurt or killed, a commercial vehicle like an 18-wheeler is at fault, or other scenarios where tragedy could have so easily been avoided, we are driven to ensure justice is served for the victims. No one ever plans to need a truck accident lawyer, certainly not a wrongful death lawyer. But, if you or your family have suffered from a tragic accident, know that you have resources, and help is just one brief phone call away.

Dangers of Speeding

It is shocking that after all the years of research and experience we have about the dangers of speeding, people still seem to need a reminder at this time about the serious consequences of this reckless behavior.

Property damage is often one of the first things to come to mind when we think of a car accidents generally. However, as soon as you add “high-speed” to the equation, injuries become the much more pressing concern. As experts in personal injury protection, these are just a few of the devastating consequences we have encountered from dangerous drivers’ failings on the road:

  • Neck and back injuries, including broken or slipped disks and whiplash
  • Head injuries including concussions, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and contusions
  • Skeletal injuries such as broken or fractured bones
  • Muscular injuries such as pulls or strains
  • Spinal cord injuries including paraplegia or tetraplegia
  • Death

Whether you need a truck accident attorney after being struck by a speeding 18-wheeler, an expert commercial accident lawyer after a collision with a rushed delivery van, or have simply been struck by a careless speed demon, the personal injury authorities at Thompson Law are prepared to take care of you and provide the solutions you need. Your dedicated legal team will share guidance on obtaining any medical treatment and will take the burden of fighting the insurance companies and at-fault parties off your shoulders. Reach out to us on the web or give us a call to get started.

What Cities Can Do About Speeding Right Now

With a spike in speeding-related crashes that cause serious injuries and fatalities, many are already asking what can be done to slow things down. With the reopening of cities and states like Texas, we may see a return to more typical policing standards around speed citations. Part of the return to “a new normal” may include upticks in contact and interaction, though with safety precautions such as masks and rolled-up windows.

Additionally, there are measures cities can take. Most cities currently have a vast stockpile of supplies for traffic and event management that are not in use right now without any large crowd activities going on at such places as sports and entertainment venues. These cones, stanchions, gates and other tools for directing traffic and shutting down lanes can be put to use narrowing or closing roads that are causing problems. Using these tools to create additional temporary bike lanes, direct curbside pickup traffic, or generally make areas look like construction sites all encourage motorists to slow down.

Finally, there are things that individuals can do to help. Aside from obviously taking personal responsibility and not speeding when you drive, there are other measures available. Businesses offering takeout and curbside pickup that have parking spaces are setting up booths or stations in those areas to make for easier hand off to customers. There is an additional bonus effect that traffic around these sorts of setups naturally slows to accommodate people parking and walking nearby. And who knows, maybe the Pittsburgh chair can become a nationwide trend?

Perhaps an unforeseen benefit of this moment will come in the form of city planning improvements to make our roads and sidewalks safer, more navigable, and more logical. In the urgency of reaction to the pandemic, we may also see changes like this happen more organically and with less red tape.

The Critical Conclusion

In the best of times, speeding is the third most common cause of vehicular deaths. In the worst of times, like a pandemic, if speeding trends continue as they are, we may find that while the roads are less populous, they are more deadly.

This is not a good time to be hospitalized. Take care while driving so that you don’t make costly mistakes which could put you or anyone else in harm’s way. By risking your safety on the road, risk your own well being and optimal recovery in hospitals focused on tending to COVID-19 patients. Careless actions on the road are always a selfish choice, but this is particularly poignant at a time where our hospitals and healthcare systems are already overburdened. Have compassion for others as you share the roads and stay safe. If things do go wrong, Thompson Law is still here to help.

 

If you found this article helpful, you might also like:

Trucking Safety Measures Suspended During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Coronavirus and Car Accidents: Facts and Fiction in the News

Personal Injury Concerns During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

 

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Texas is two years, so if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, 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. Call the 4’s right away for assistance with your injury and claim: 214-444-4444, 817-444-4444, 972-444-4444, 469-444-4444, or toll-free at the phone number below.

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