During the course of the COVID-19 public health emergency, many aspects of life as we know it in Texas have changed. One change is traffic safety, especially now that driving patterns have been altered as a result of social distancing and more people staying home. Unsurprisingly, traffic patterns changed significantly throughout the course of 2020, and some of these changes may also affect Texas residents and drivers if you’re planning to get back on the road or have been back to commuting for a while.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) most recent report, changes to driving and travel patterns have been significant during the pandemic. The NHTSA reported that despite initial declines in traffic crash fatalities in 2020, the fatality rate increased during the second quarter of the year. From April until June, the fatality rate rose per 100 million vehicle miles traveled from 1.06 in 2019 to 1.25 in 2020. There was, however, an initial decrease in the first six months of 2020, which is likely attributable to the early onset of the pandemic and initial social distancing requirements and stay at home orders.
Drivers were taking on increased speeds in the second half of the year, according to the NHTSA. Although the reasons behind this are unclear, this may have been due to less bustle and congestion on the roads, which may have encouraged drivers to take advantage of the space. The NHTSA also reports that across nearly all roadway classifications, speeds observed in 2020 remained higher than in 2019. This, the NHTSA argues, presents a significant safety concern because a 10 percent change in the average speed of traffic has been historically shown to have a greater impact on traffic fatalities than a 10 percent change in traffic volume. Increased driving speed, the NHTSA contends, increases the risk of crashes and the severity of injuries associated with those crashes.
In general, despite the lower frequency of trips in 2020 because of the global pandemic, risky traffic behaviors picked up in the second half of the year as people became more used to the pandemic and returned back to their normal routines and appeared to continue throughout the remainder of the year. With overall speeds higher than the same period in 2019, fewer drivers on the roads may not mean safer roads—and drivers should continue to exercise caution when traveling by car by remaining proactive and vigilant as people make their way back into their regular routines.
The last thing anyone needs, after all, is a car accident during a global pandemic. If a collision results in injuries, heading to the hospital during COVID-19 may come with heightened risks and scarce resources. To avoid unnecessary risks, it is essential that drivers are exercising all precautions that were utilized before the pandemic, and that they continue to do so for themselves and the safety of others on the road as well.
Do You Need a Texas Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or someone you know has been recently involved in a Texas car accident during the pandemic, contact the attorneys at Carabin Shaw today. Our office is still operating during these trying times, and we will work with you to get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation today, contact us at 800-862-1260.