Coronavirus Causes Decrease in Traffic Congestion, But Less Caution
As states across the country, including New Jersey, have encouraged social distancing and put shelter-in-place orders into effect, Americans are spending way less time behind the wheel of a car and driving significantly fewer miles. Historically, when traffic decreases on the country’s roadways, the number of accidents plummets as well. Is that happening now that the streets are less congested because of COVID-19? Is it safer to be on the roads? Here’s what the preliminary data from across the country indicates.
There Are Fewer Accidents
Not surprisingly, states across the country are experiencing dramatically lower numbers of motor vehicle accidents, and it’s easy to determine why. As a general rule, the number of accidents is proportional to the number of miles driven—the more miles driven, the larger the number of crashes.
Recent reports from California suggest a 50% decrease in motor vehicle accidents, and New Jersey and New York have seen similar reductions in the number of crashes. The estimated decrease in New York is 60%.
The Accidents Happening Are More Serious
At the same time the total number of accidents is decreasing, those occurring are generally more serious. For example, in Massachusetts, motor vehicle accidents are down 73% over the same period a year ago, but the decrease in fatal crashes is only down by half of that—38%. Law enforcement agencies say the decongestion on the highways and other roads has resulted in motorists traveling at higher speeds, causing more serious collisions. In just one example, officials clocked the average speed on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York at 52 miles per hour. The average speed at the same time of day a year ago was 13 miles per hour.
The conclusion is that you’re less likely to be involved in an accident on the roads in New Jersey during the pandemic, but if you are involved in one, chances are the consequences will be more serious.
Contact Attorney Howard N. Sobel
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