As it turns out, the empty roads during COVID-19 still possessed risk for American drivers. Even though Americans have been driving less and covering fewer miles overall, in some places the amount of motor vehicle accidents have actually increased.
Data indicated that rates have jumped over 14 percent in fatality rates in March 2020. This is in spite of a drop of 8 percent of overall roadway deaths compared to March 2019. The number of miles dropped 8.6 compared to last year, but yet the mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.22 in March 2020 compared to 1.07 in March 2019.
The following states have seen an increase in roadway deaths within the first three months of 2020:
1. Arkansas (6 percent)
2. Connecticut (42 percent)
3. Louisiana (23 percent)
4. Nevada (10 percent)
5. New York (17 percent)
Still, the high number of roadway accidents during the pandemic is cause for concern. Drivers that are used to congested roads are suddenly seeing these empty highways in front of them and they are taking advantage of it.
Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO said, “Disturbingly, we have open lanes of traffic and an apparent open season on reckless driving. Reports indicate that speeding, for example has increased significantly since traffic has lessened. Some states are approving “ill-advised” roadway tactics intended to respond to the pandemic, but many have had bad consequences.
· Many states are repealing requirements for teen drivers to pass road tests before acquiring licenses
· The relaxing of hours of service rules for commercial vehicle drivers
To help ensure safety on the road during the pandemic the National Safety Council has urged people to do the following:
1. Follow state and local directives and stay off the roads if officials have directed
2. Obey speed limits
3. Be aware of increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic as more people have turned to this as a safety precaution during the pandemic
4. Defensive driving: buckle up, designate a sober driver, or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of rest to avoid fatigue and avoid distractions
While the novel coronavirus pandemic has lead people staying home and driving less, new data finds that emptier roads may be more dangerous for drivers.