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Did Car Accidents Decrease During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

If you were on the roads at any point after March, you likely noticed the influence that the coronavirus had on traffic. Roads and highways that are typically congested were clear as fewer people were driving to work or leaving their houses. The obvious reduction in traffic has led many to wonder states would see a reduction in car accidents.

What Reports Reveals About Car Accidents During COVID-19

On a report released by the University of California, Davis found interesting data in relation to car accident injuries and death throughout California. The university’s Road Ecology Center determined that the state saved about $40 million each day since March 20. It also found that traffic was reduced by about 55 percent and there was a 40 to 50 percent decrease in accidents among drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. So, after three weeks of people staying at home, the state saved $1 billion because of the reduction in car accidents.

“The reduction in traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities is a bit of a silver lining for people who are staying at home and who are impacted by the pandemic,” said program director and project lead author Fraser Shilling.

The Positive Traffic Trends Haven’t Been Nationwide

According to U.S. News, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association has determined that more people started driving reckless as roads emptied during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports indicate that the average speeds of drivers in Los Angeles increased by 30 percent in some areas. In areas with speed cameras such as New York City, up to double the number of automated tickets were issued than before the crisis.

Some States Have Seen More Deadly Accidents

Even if states have had a decrease in traffic and accidents, they’ve had a significant increase in fatal car accidents. In Massachusetts and Minnesota, deadly accidents have happened at a higher rate despite the number of accidents decreasing. In fact, the state of Minnesota saw fatal car accidents happen twice as much as it usually does.

"While COVID-19 is clearly our national priority, our traffic safety laws cannot be ignored," GHSA executive director Jonathan Adkins said.

Pedestrian Accidents During the Coronavirus Outbreak

In New York City, pedestrians enjoyed safer walkways during the COVID-19 outbreak, On May 13, local news outlets reported that 58 days had passed since a pedestrian was fatally struck by a vehicle. It marked the longest time the city had seen without a pedestrian death since 1983.

As with other statistics, pedestrians haven’t been as fortunate in other areas. U.S. News reported pedestrian death rates were on the rise in Nevada and Rhode Island.

"We must maintain that same sense of urgency when it comes to the road," Pam Fischer of the GHS said in a news release. "Drivers need to respect the law and look out for other road users, so that we can prevent the needless loss of life now and moving forward."