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How the Pandemic Changed How We Drive—and Made Us Less Safe

Jun 7th, 2022

In the short span of time since the COVID pandemic began, statisticians have noted some disturbing trends. As CNBC reported recently, despite cars being made with more and more safety features, highway deaths have spiked dramatically over the past couple of years. Fatality rates were 10.5 percent higher in 2021 than they were the year before—and 18 percent higher than in 2019. While there are likely multiple factors in this trend (ranging from greater cellphone use to overconfidence in driver-assist features), it does beg the question: how has the pandemic changed how we drive?

The answers aren’t straightforward, of course, but we can look to data and anecdotal evidence to try to get a sense of how our habits have changed–and how those changes might be making us less safe on the roads.

“Sloppy” Driving Habits

During the initial lockdowns, traffic virtually disappeared from the roadways of most major cities as people stayed home. And yet, among the few drivers who continued to frequent the roads, accident rates spiked—especially pedestrian deaths. At least three factors may have contributed to this trend:

  • An increase in DUI driving (corresponding to an increase in alcohol consumption); and
  • Overconfidence, speeding, and “sloppy” driving on roads with less traffic.

In the months since, as more people have returned to work and life has begun to resemble something closer to “normal,” we’re seeing increased congestion on the roads again. And while that may be leading to more fender-benders, it’s also worth noting that our driving habits haven’t exactly improved in the meantime. Some of this may be an overall “rustiness” in many drivers who have continued to work from home and are out of practice driving on the roads.

Embracing Alternate Forms of Transportation

Between wanting to “get out” more during the pandemic and the recent major spikes in gas prices, many drivers are opting for cheaper modes of transportation for their commutes, such as bicycles and motorcycles. June 20, 2022, is National Ride to Work Day, and while motorcycling definitely saves on energy costs and reduces congestion, it has also affected accident rates overall, possibly due to people exercising a lack of safety protocols. The year 2020 saw a significant uptick in motorcycle fatalities after several years of decline.

All told, it’s more important than ever to practice safe driving principles while on the road. If you or someone you loved has suffered an injury in an accident due to someone’s negligence in unsafe driving, our attorneys can help. Call our law office today and let’s discuss your case.