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Did COVID Make Driving More Dangerous?

By Eugene Bruno on June 10, 2023

COVID changed so much, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it changed the way we drive, too. Lockdowns and remote work meant months of empty roads. Now that we are back to our regular driving routines, California is experiencing a surge in traffic deaths. Did we forget how to drive? Did we pick up dangerous habits while driving on empty roads? Can we get back to driving safely, or is this our new normal? In this month’s blog post, we discuss some of the details of a recent traffic safety study and explore some of the factors behind this bizarre and scary phenomenon.

The TRIP Study

A traffic safety study conducted by TRIP, a transportation nonprofit, compared pre-pandemic and post-pandemic traffic accident data. TRIP found a big increase in California traffic fatalities, which paints a grim picture of roadway safety.

There has been a scary increase in traffic deaths in California in just the past few years. Between March and June 2023, the number of fatal accidents increased by a staggering 22% compared to the same period in 2019. This surge in traffic fatalities is thought to be linked to post-pandemic changes in the way we drive.

What Factors Contribute to Increased Traffic Fatalities?

The study identified several factors that may be contributing to the surge in traffic deaths in California:

Speeding and Aggressive Driving: With fewer vehicles on the roads during the pandemic, many drivers became accustomed to lighter traffic conditions. As a result, we started to drive faster and more aggressively. Unfortunately, this behavior seems to have persisted even after traffic volume returned to pre-pandemic levels. Speed, coupled with aggressive driving, poses a significant risk to road safety.

Distracted Driving: With fewer vehicles on the road, some drivers started using handheld devices again because they saw it as a lower risk. Unfortunately, traffic volume has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but drivers still engage in dangerous distracted driving behaviors, such as texting or browsing social media while behind the wheel. Distracted driving diverts your attention from the road at least as much as DUI and significantly increases the risk of a crash.

Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation: The pandemic disrupted daily routines for many of us, leading to irregular sleep patterns and increased stress. Some of us may still be experiencing fatigue, sleep deprivation, and stress that affects our driving. These factors can impair driver judgment, reaction time, and overall driving performance, making crashes more likely.

Return of Rush Hour Congestion: Rush hour traffic is back, and we may need to relearn how to drive defensively during those peak hours when we may be dealing with increased frustration and impatience. These factors can result in risky behaviors such as tailgating, sudden and unsignaled lane changes, and running red lights.

The surge in traffic deaths in California should be a concerning issue for all of us, and all of us can contribute to making our roads safer. By prioritizing and modeling responsible driving habits, such as driving the speed limit, avoiding distractions, and getting adequate rest before hitting the road, we can work together towards safer roads for everyone.

What If You’ve Been Injured in an Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault?

If you have been injured behind the wheel by the negligence or recklessness of another driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call a San Diego car accident lawyer at Eugene Bruno & Associates for a free consultation at 1-888-BRUNO-88 (1-888-278-6688).

Posted in: Car Accident