People who have tried driving anytime after the March lockdowns would notice how the coronavirus has drastically changed the number of vehicles on the road. Roads that were usually full of cars and people are relatively clearer. With lesser people commuting or driving to work, many people wish there would be fewer car accidents.
Although many people are allowed to work from home, some still go out and drive. Others would drive to release stress, while some drive to feel reckless. Just when car accident lawyers and police officers thought they could catch a break with traffic-related cases, it seems that these are still common in the middle of a pandemic.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Driving Behavior
A few months ago, in September, a video of a driver speeding his Lamborghini on a highway in Newark, Ohio, went viral on the internet. The 23-year-old driver who revved his car to run 213 mph admitted that he was “showing off.” This was not the only incident where the driver just wanted to show off what they can do. Other drivers display their reckless behavior even when the government has declared COVID-19 a public health emergency.
A recent report from UC Davis showed the behavior of car drivers and the rates of car-related injuries and deaths during the pandemic. According to their findings, traffic congestion was reduced by 55 percent, while there was a notable decrease in accidents among pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. The people helped the local government save $1 billion in fees for staying at home for the first three weeks of the pandemic. This could be a good sign.
However, some reports have seen how reckless driving became more prevalent. More people have been driving recklessly as roads are wider and emptied at the height of the pandemic. The average speed of drivers in Los Angeles is up by 30 percent in major areas. In places where speed cameras are present, the number of automated tickets has doubled compared to cases before the health crisis.
While some states have reported a decrease in accidents, there is a significant increase in fatal accidents in areas like Minnesota and Massachusetts. These accidents are deadlier than those before the pandemic. Although the local and national governments are focused on how to eradicate cases of COVID-19, traffic safety has hit an alarming high.
How People Are Coping
This alarming number of cases could be attributed to the growing amount of people consuming drugs and alcohol for comfort during the pandemic. Research by Nielsen early in the pandemic showed growth in alcohol sales by 54 percent in-stores. Online alcohol sales shot up to almost 500 percent in April 2020.
As the world faces an economic downturn, many have lost their jobs, homes, and loved ones due to the pandemic. With people commanded to stay at home for at least three weeks, isolation has taken its toll on some people. This leads others to turn to drugs, alcohol, and opioids to regulate their anxiety, stress, and depression during the pandemic. These episodes show how people need a strong support system and mental health assistance during the pandemic. However, peoples’ mobility is still limited due to COVID-19 protocols.
As there are people who cannot afford to have an appointment with their doctors for their mental health symptoms, they do things themselves. To adhere to their temporary highs, they get behind the wheel under the influence. Some are lucky to survive, while others die of their reckless acts.
Speeding was a top choice among pandemic reckless drivers. Their speeds have increased by 250 percent than their usual driving range. Others were distracted drivers, while some refuse to use their seatbelts for safety.
Driving Safety amid a Global Health Crisis
While the growing number of fatal accidents can be reversed, drivers need to adhere to traffic laws. Many lawmakers and street safety advocates are pushing to enact laws that will enforce child safety, helmet use for cyclists, impaired driving regulations, and seatbelt use, among others.
As economic crashes lead to a decrease in traffic, it is expected that people have less mobility resulting in fewer accidents. However, as COVID-19 is taking a toll not just on our physical bodies but also on our mental health, many are experiencing increased stress and depressive symptoms that lead to substance abuse.
Every driver should uphold the responsibility of road safety, as their reckless actions can impair or kill others. While this pandemic seems far from over, it is our responsibility to think of others before doing reckless actions. When out on the road, take the necessary steps to ensure that you and other people are safe.