In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one might assume that traffic accidents and roadway deaths are on the decline. After all, fewer people are traveling short and long distances and many are hunkered down under stay-at-home orders. Unfortunately, as our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys understand, it appears that may not be the case in some areas.
For example, the Houston Chronicle reported that despite half as much road traffic, car accident deaths were only down about 20 percent this March compared to a year ago.
Some anecdotal observations are that while there are undoubtedly fewer vehicles on the road, some motorists are using this as an excuse to speed, blow through stop signs or fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents – which have always been a major problem in Florida – may even see an uptick as an increasing number of people are running and biking to maintain optimal cardiovascular fitness and also as an excuse to break the monotony of staying at home.
Just as in any other time, most accidents are caused by driver error or carelessness. There may be a feeling that traffic rules can be flouted because “nobody else is on the road,” so it doesn’t matter whether you make a full stop or look twice before making a left turn. The fact is, we should all assume we’re going to be sharing the road with others no matter how quiet the streets seem.
Many of the reported crashes in Houston are occurring during non-essential trips. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez published a message on social media saying, “Just because there’s less traffic on the road, it does not mean the road rules have changed. Just because there are fewer cars on the road, it doesn’t mean you can treat it like a race track. It’s really disappointing because we need our medical facilities for sick people.”
Another thing drivers should bear in mind is that because the pandemic has caused many to become jobless and thus unable to pay essential bills, it seems likely many are allowing their car insurance to lapse – particularly when folks are doing a lot less driving. Floridians especially need to take this to heart, considering we already had one of the highest rates of uninsured motorists (26 percent, according to the Insurance Information Institute) even before the pandemic. What this means is not only should motorists be extra cautious, but it’s a good idea to revisit your uninsured/underinsured motorist policies. These are the policies that extend protection if you are involved with a hit-and-run driver, a driver who is not insured or a driver who lacks adequate insurance to cover their injuries. (It will also apply if you are a pedestrian or bicyclists struck by a motor vehicle.)
Reducing Florida Traffic Accident Risk During COVID19
If you must venture out right now, several things to keep in mind include:
- The importance of minimizing distractions. If you’re driving, don’t try to talk or text at the same time. Music or talk radio should be kept at reasonable volumes. Pay attention. This has always been important for motorists, but it’s a good reminder to maintain this even if you’re sharing the road with fewer vehicles.
- Watch for bicycles and pedestrians. Yes, there are fewer cars, but there are more bicyclists and pedestrians. Watch for them. Understand that bicycles are also considered vehicles, and share most of the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators.
- Watch for children. Kids are not in school right now. They’ve been cooped up for weeks at least. They aren’t always inclined to be wary of their surroundings under any circumstances, but that may be especially true now. Parents may feel their attention pulled in many different directions, and may not be supervising outdoor play as closely. Just be on the lookout, particularly when driving in residential areas.
- Watch for delivery trucks. While there is less overall traffic these days, you may have noticed an uptick in the number of delivery trucks ferrying from place-to-place. More people are having essential (and non-essential) items delivered rather than shopping in-store. Delivery truck drivers may be on tight schedules, fatigued and possibly fairly new at their jobs. They can also cause a lot of damage in a crash. Give them a wide berth.
The bottom line here is that it’s important to do the right thing, even if you think no one else is around to be affected.
If you are involved in a crash, our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers are still available via phone call and video conferencing to answer your questions.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
With traffic so low, officials expected roadway deaths to follow suit. They did not. April 13, 2020, By Dug Begley, The Houston Chronicle