When coronavirus lockdowns began and people around the world stayed at home, it seemed like the roads would be safer. After all, fewer drivers on the road should theoretically translate into fewer accidents.
As it turns out, that assumption is inaccurate. The National Safety Council (NSC) recently reported a 36.6% increase in the year-over-year rate of road fatalities despite widespread lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
How did this happen, and how can you stay safe? Let’s take a closer look.
As of the first-quarter of 2020, current accident reporting is showing that state accident rates aren’t faring well despite lockdowns. At least eight states have had notable increases in their fatal vehicle accident rate. These include:
- Arkansas (24%)
- Connecticut (45%)
- Illinois (6%)
- Louisiana (17%)
- Minnesota (6%)
- Nevada (7%)
- North Carolina (7%)
- Oklahoma (6%)
That said, additional states have had declines in their fatal accident rates:
- Arizona (-12%)
- Colorado (-5%)
- Hawaii (-34%)
- Idaho (-36%)
- Indiana (-16%)
- Iowa (-16%)
- Maryland (-14%)
- Michigan (-17%)
- New Jersey (-9%)
- Oregon (-28%)
- South Carolina (-12%)
- Washington (-16%)
It is worth noting that this reporting came shortly before Independence Day, when many Americans may elect to travel despite continuing coronavirus-related restrictions.
Why Are Accidents Happening?
Initially, the logic of lockdown and everyone staying at home seemed to suggest that there would be fewer traffic fatalities. As the data demonstrates, the picture is a bit more complicated than that.
In reality, car crashes have actually become deadlier around the world since global lockdowns took effect. Remember, most drivers were off the road, but not all of them. Those who were still on the road, as essential workers or for other reasons, had open roads they had never experienced, even in busy cities.
The result, it seems, is open season on reckless driving.
It is also worth noting, again, that the reporting came before Independence Day, when alcohol was expected to account for a significant portion of deaths during that weekend – the Fourth of July has long been an especially dangerous time for drivers for precisely that reason.
What Drivers Can Do to Stay Safe
Because many of the fatal accidents happening on the road are expected to be the result of reckless behavior on the road, your best defense is to drive safely.
Other drivers may be reckless, but you should always obey traffic laws, even if roads are clear and traffic is light. You have no way of knowing when that might change.
You should also engage in defensive driving – buckle your seatbelt, drive sober, avoid distractions, and above all, drive as though everyone else on the road is going to make the worst possible decision and plan accordingly.
Helping Your Team Stay Safe During COVID-19
The coronavirus has changed our lives in radical and unexpected ways. But we are still responsible for taking charge of our own safety, and employers are still responsible for ensuring their employees have a safe work environment.
If you need the latest updates on the coronavirus and workplace safety, make sure to check out our blog for more useful tips, news, and ways to protect yourself and your employees during this difficult time.