If you’ve driven within the past 10 months or so (and that describes just about all of us), you have likely noticed that roads are less congested than normal. Some are virtually empty. This is largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the large-scale shift to lives lived at home. Many Pennsylvanians no longer commute for work or school since these activities must now be done without leaving the house.
Historically, when traffic volume has decreased, traffic accidents and fatalities have decreased accordingly. That would have been a small silver lining to the horrible year that was 2020 – if accident rates had changed as expected. But as it turns out, traffic fatalities here in Pennsylvania and across the country actually increased compared to their 2019 totals.
How did this happen?
What accounts for this bizarre trend? Traffic safety officials believe that the drop in traffic volume was countered by a sharp rise in reckless driving behaviors. Law enforcement agencies have reported issuing more citations for speeding, super speeding (driving more than 100 mph), distracted driving, failure to wear a seatbelt and other dangerous choices behind the wheel. Drunk driving arrest rates have also increased during the pandemic.
Traffic accident data is currently incomplete, but the National Safety Council released preliminary estimates that 874 people died on Pennsylvania roads in the first nine months of 2020. That’s more than 3 percent higher than in 2019, and the fourth quarter statistics haven’t been included yet.
Legal options for those who suffered serious injuries
Few of us have previously experienced anything like what occurred in 2020, and we can all be forgiven for handling the stress less than perfectly. But there is simply no excuse for dangerous, reckless and impaired driving as a way to relieve stress and anxiety. It only creates more injuries and deaths in a year that is already full of sorrow and loss.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a car wreck caused by a negligent or reckless driver, please don’t hesitate to explore your legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney.