We are seeing more data that indicates the number of traffic accidents and fatalities have actually increased over the past year. This seems counterintuitive given that fewer of us are driving on a regular basis due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, our home state of California is actually one of nine reporting an increase in motor vehicle-related deaths (up three percent over the same period in 2019). So what might be causing more people to suffer injuries or lose loved ones in auto accidents despite fewer people on the roads?
Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs has increased
A review of a recent study conducted by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) points to the likely causes of this unexpected increase in accidents. The primary issue appears to be more people driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, particularly marijuana and opioids. It isn’t a reach to speculate that due to the lockdowns, job losses, and overall health fears resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are increasingly resorting to medicating themselves in order to handle the challenging reality of their daily lives. Unfortunately, when too many of these people do venture out, they appear to be doing so still under the influence of these prescribed or illegal substances despite years of education on the dangers of DUI/DWI driving.
Fewer cars on the roads leads to increased risk-taking
The NHTSA identified other likely contributors: drivers traveling at higher rates of speed and indulging in more reckless behaviors behind the wheel. Given the reduction of the number of cars on the road, those who do go out seem to feel empowered to speed as though they own the road. Speeding and other risk-taking (e.g., cutting off other drivers, street racing) have long been identified as causes of many car crashes, so it is no surprise that a rise in these dangerous behaviors has led to an increase in accident-related injuries and fatalities.
These concerns will likely carry over into the new year as intoxicated and risk-taking drivers find themselves back on increasingly crowded roads once our state slowly transitions out of lockdown mode. More people are already commuting to work at least part-time, and with more schools opening parents are returning to driving their kids to and from classes. At the same time, people are eschewing travel by public transportation under the perception that traveling alone in their car is safer (from a Covid-19 risk perspective) than sharing a bus or subway with other riders. This combination points toward a potentially disastrous 2021 with regards to the potential of being injured or worse in a car crash.
Speak to a Los Angeles car accident lawyer
We hope you are careful when you return to driving on a regular basis and encourage you to take extra precautions against drivers who might not be. Should you find yourself suffering injuries and losses following an automobile accident caused by someone driving under the influence or indulging in reckless behavior, please contact Los Angeles car accident attorney Scott J. Corwin for assistance at 800-946-9440.