The COVID-19 pandemic has massively impacted businesses around the world and, because of that, there are fewer car accidents.
Commuters are staying at home due to lockdown orders that have left truckers finding themselves the only ones on the road.
This situation might be a boon for traffic safety but there is some conflicting data to that effect.
On the bright side, Newsweek reports that traffic accidents in California have dropped by at least half during the first three weeks of lockdown.
Data from the University of California-Davis also shows that accidental drownings in the state of California decreased by 80% during that same period.
On top of this, visits to emergency rooms have declined overall since the lockdown measures started.
University of California physician George Rutherford said of the COVID-19 decline in ER visits: “Where are all the people with heart attacks? Where are all the people with strokes? Are those patients staying away from the ERs for fear of COVID? Clearly, the census is way down in ERs.”
This kind of slack in the system allows for patients to address the novel coronavirus more effectively but it doesn’t quite explain what is happening with patients that experience common health emergencies like those outlined by Dr. Rutherford.
What is puzzling about all of this, however, is that the nationwide donated organ shortage is being partially attributed to fewer accidental deaths but some news outlets are reporting an extreme increase in the number of traffic fatalities within certain localities.
National Safety Council Ken Kolosh attributed the uptick to drivers being more careless or intentionally reckless while there are fewer vehicles on the road. “A lot of drivers are taking the open roads as an invitation for an open season on speeding and other dangerous behaviors,” he told Michigan Live.
Law enforcement website Police One reports that five states are stacking up particularly high rates of traffic accidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center director Eric Jackson said of the situation in his state with regard to the number of car accidents: “We were expecting to see a dramatic decrease in the number of fatal crashes that were occurring out on the roadway, but that’s just not what’s happening.”
Connecticut, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Minnesota authorities blamed the higher number of traffic accidents on speeding or distracted driving.
Massachusetts’ state’s highway administrator, Jonathan Gulliver, told the website that his state experienced double the number of traffic fatalities in April over last year. “Drivers that are used to having congested roads are all of a sudden thing seeing these empty highways in front of them, empty roadways if they’re in a local road and they’re taking advantage of it.”