The social isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic has caused significant reductions in vehicle traffic in recent months, which has caused the hundreds of drivers who are still driving to become more reckless behind the wheel and to drive at higher speeds. This situation has increased the number of accidents resulting in fatalities.
With most of the country partially closed and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending social distancing measures, there has been a decrease in motor vehicle accidents. However, based on the latest report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of motor vehicle accident fatalities across the country has increased.
According to a Reuters analysis, in New York City, the percentage of fatal accidents increased 167 percent in April from the previous year. The increase was 292 percent in Chicago and 65 percent in Boston.
Despite vehicular traffic decreasing across the United States, highway accidents have become more deadly, with a 37 percent rise in death rates per motor vehicle accident in April, compared to the same month last year, according to a report by the NHTSA.
In Ohio, researchers found that while average speeds increased only slightly from March 28 to April 19 in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton, the amount of extreme speeding cases (characterized as driving at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour), increased dramatically.
“The levels of extreme speeding are shocking”, according to Harvey Miller, professor of geography and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Ohio State University.” The fact that there is less traffic, but more speeding cases is a strong indicator that the flow of traffic contributes tremendously to the control of speed. “
The death toll on the road has undoubtedly increased as traffic decreased in many places. In New York City, the number of collisions dropped to 4,103 in April, compared to the 16,808 reported on the same month a year ago, a 76 percent drop. But the number of fatal collisions per 1,000 accidents increased from 1.2 per 1,000 accidents to 3.2 per 1,000 accidents.
Despite the general drop in collisions, the year-over-year death rate among motor vehicle accidents is 70 percent higher.
Commercial vehicle accidents have also increased during COVID-19
These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. Commercial vehicles and trucks, which were not mentioned above, may be among the most affected during this time. These are the main reasons why the traffic speed caused by the quarantine, coupled with an increase in commercial shipping activity may prove lethal.
Our dependence as a commercial vehicle society has increased since the coronavirus pandemic began. With a shortage of different types of supplies in stores across the country, trucks making deliveries to help restock these items have to work longer hours.
These drivers are aware of the pressure surrounding the situation of getting the items that people need. Because of this, they may be working despite being fatigued to meet the high demands that stores face. This could make them less careful on the road.
Increased working hours for truckers
Due to the increased need to supply communities at this time, the US Department of Transportation issued an emergency aid statement that truck drivers can work longer hours. The statement includes monetary aid intended to address national emergency conditions and the need to transport essentials quickly.
The statement sets out exactly what qualifies as essential and includes equipment intended to treat COVID-19. The declaration explicitly states that fatigued drivers cannot yet be required or allowed to drive commercial vehicles.
Impact of social distancing on truck drivers
Another reason why commercial vehicle drivers may not be operating as safely on the road is because of the reduction in resting areas along their routes. To uphold the rules of social distancing, gathering centers within truck stops and the option of dining in restaurants are no longer available to drivers, giving them fewer ways to relax during breaks.
These are not excuses for negligent driving, but these factors that can come into play when you are traveling. The reality of being a commercial vehicle driver has changed dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S.
A decrease in drug testing for truck drivers
As we covered in our last post, through September 30th, federal trucking regulators have extended a waiver from certain pre-employment drug testing requirements for truck drivers during the COVID-19 emergency.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this extension aims to “provide relief from the administrative burdens and costs associated with test administration and enable them to return drivers to the workforce in a more efficient manner”.
While the COVID-19 pandemic means there are additional concerns for commercial drivers, old concerns still linger. The following are examples of truck driver negligence that could lead to serious accidents:
-Failing to inspect the vehicle before driving
-Driving faster than recommended on bad roads or during bad weather
-Driving without enough sleep
-Having poorly secured cargo
-Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication
Injured in an accident with a Truck?
If you were injured in an accident with a truck or other commercial vehicle, you must understand your legal rights.
An attorney who has experience with truck accident claims will be able to consult with you about your legal rights and open an investigation into the full cause of the accident to help determine the true liability. Get in touch with us so we can evaluate your case for free; call PMR Law at 832-667-7700 and a member of our team will get in touch with you immediately.
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