According to a CBS This Morning report, more than 20 states saw a marked drop in fatalities caused by car accidents between March and May
The Covid-19 pandemic that has wrought havoc on the entire planet has adversely impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. Our physical, emotional, social, and financial lives have been put in jeopardy; and we have had to orient ourselves to new systems of operation. While the lockdowns caused by the pandemic have had many difficult effects on our lives, one positive thing has come out of the removal of cars from the road: there has been a drastic decline in traffic-related automobile accidents causing fatalities across the country.
According to a CBS This Morning report, more than 20 states saw a marked drop in fatalities caused by car accidents between March and May, during which many states and local governments were implementing stay-at-home orders. Most notable among the statistics of declining fatalities gathered by the CBS This Morning report was an 84 percent decline in fatalities on highways in California. Because that state, in particular, drove home a message that it was imperative not to drive unless absolutely necessary in order to provide space on the roads for emergency responders to field calls related to the Coronavirus, traffic was greatly reduced, and fatal accidents fell with them.
What About New Jersey Traffic Accident and Fatality Statistics?
New Jersey also has seen a serious drop in reported auto fatalities during this trying time, reportedly reaching 50-year lows. This pattern in New Jersey and the country is welcome news, but it is a stark turnaround from before the pandemic. According to the New Jersey State Police, traffic fatality patterns had been steady for years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 96 percent of the vehicles involved in US traffic accidents in 2014 were passenger vehicles, and in 2014 over 21,000 people died across the country in traffic accidents involving passenger vehicles. Additionally, that year, a startling 2.07 million people were injured in passenger vehicle accidents. Given that accident fatality numbers have stayed fairly steady – as in high – over the past 5 years before the pandemic (seeing a drop of only 3 percent from 2015-2018 data), we are left to wonder whether patterns will simply return to the dangerous ‘normal’ after the pandemic has subsided.
Counties like Bergen, Middlesex, and Essex have historically been the counties with the most traffic accidents; can the 35 percent decline of traffic fatalities reported in April 2020 when compared to April 2019 be maintained in high accident areas, and all areas around New Jersey?
Not necessarily at all, warns the New Jersey State Police. In fact, while NJSP records show that the rate of fatalities from auto accidents has declined by 9 percent overall compared to 2019, this drop is not as sharp as it could be. Traffic in New Jersey has decreased by 62 percent during the first months of the pandemic, so a 9 percent decrease in fatalities actually shows that some drivers are taking advantage of the emptier roads to engage in risky behaviors such as speeding that have resulted in additional traffic deaths.
Increase in risky behavior on roadways can prove dangerous during Covid-19
New Jersey Governors Highway Safety Association Senior Director Pam Shadel Fischer added another dangerous cause of accidents. She said, “There is a sense that because of Covid-19, law enforcement is diverted.” This perspective that risky behavior would go unchecked on ‘empty’ roads is dangerous and life-threatening, both for drivers engaging in risky behaviors as well as everyone else on the road, whether in a car or not.
Reminder to Drivers Getting Back on the Road Post Pandemic
As drivers get back on the road, New Jersey drivers are reminded to engage in basic safety precautions to make sure that you, your passengers, and others on the road stay safe. Make sure you have completed safety checks for your car, especially if you haven’t driven it in a while. Always wear your seatbelt and ensure that all passengers are also strapped in. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or mind-altering drugs. Obey all street signs, and follow the local speed limits, even if you seem to be alone on the road. Sometimes the most dangerous times operating a vehicle are those in which you let your guard down because you perceive that you have more room to roam than you actually do. Remember that at any moment, a car, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian could enter into your trajectory from an unseen path, and driving defensively while following all traffic laws is the surest way to keep everyone safe on the road.
Contact Trenton NJ Fatal Auto Accident and Injury Lawyers Today
At The Law Office of Cohen & Riechelson, our experienced team of auto accident lawyers supports clients across Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area in all matters regarding car accidents and personal injury claims.