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Will Car Accidents Increase as Covid-19 Restrictions are Lifted in Los Angeles?

Los-Angeles-Freeway-Accident-AttorneysWhen the lockdown orders were first issued in California in March 2020, there was a sharp decline in the number of traffic accidents because of the decrease in traffic. Following Mayor Garcetti’s shutdown orders in March, traffic accidents declined by 41% during that month from the number of accidents in 2019 with 2,917 reported.[1] However, once the stay-at-home order was lifted, traffic fatalities increased sharply.

Between March and July of 2020, the roads were nearly empty, resulting in fewer accidents. However, 2,983 accidents happened in August, which was almost 800 more than occurred in July. During the first nine months of 2020, the Los Angeles Police Department reported that accidents fell by 42% as compared to 2019. While that might seem like good news, the fact that fewer cars were traveling on the roads adds nuance to the numbers. Now that the state has eased some of its coronavirus restrictions, more accidents are likelier to occur.

Higher fatality rate seen with less traffic during the pandemic

A much higher percentage of people stayed at home and drove less during the pandemic in Los Angeles. While this meant that fewer accidents occurred, the emptier roads actually saw an increased fatality rate. According to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 8,870 people were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2020. This was a decrease of 3.3% over the same period in 2019. However, during the first six months of 2020, the volume of traffic declined by 16%. The fact that the traffic volume declined much more than traffic fatalities means that the fatality rate increased to 1.25% during the first six months of 2020 over a rate of 1.06% during the first six months of 2019.[2]

Because of the lighter traffic in LA, an increasing number of people traveling on the roads were speeding during 2020. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, traffic speeds increased as much as 30% on some roads in the county. Overall, after the stay-at-home orders took effect, traffic speeds increased by 12% during the week and 6% on the weekends.[3] At the same time that people were driving faster, an increasing number of people were bicycling or walking. In 2020, people killed by drunk drivers in LA also increased by 25%.[4]

In most cases, a drop in traffic results in a drop in traffic accidents and deaths. While Los Angeles did see a steep decline in traffic accidents, the city did not see a corresponding drop in traffic fatalities. This is worrisome as the state and city start relaxing some of the coronavirus restrictions that have been in place for a year.

Relaxation of coronavirus restrictions

The rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths have sharply fallen after the fall and winter surge ended. Because of this drop, the state has started easing some of the coronavirus restrictions. The state announced that people will be able to start attending baseball games, live concerts at stadiums, and amusement parks beginning on April 1. Disneyland will reopen, drawing tourists back to California.[5]

Multiple counties have been allowed to move from the strictest tier of restrictions, purple, into the red tier. On March 9, 2021, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department announced that the county was meeting the metrics for moving into the red tier. When it does, many more reopenings will happen, and kids in grades 7 to 12 will return to in-person learning.[6]

While there is much to look forward to as more people are receiving vaccines and the infection and death rates from COVID-19 are falling, lifting the restrictions will also likely lead to an increase in traffic accidents. More people will be returning to the streets and interstates, tourists will return, and congestion will start to retake its hold on Los Angeles and the state. The increase in traffic to 2019 levels is likely to cause an increase in traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities. If traffic behavior continues to be the same with the increases in speeding and drunk driving seen in 2020, the number of injuries and fatalities may climb much higher than in 2020 or 2019.

Tips to prevent car accidents in 2021

As more people return to the streets and roads in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California, it is important for you to remain aware and to take steps to reduce your risk of being involved in a traffic accident. Many people have driven less this past year and might need to relearn some good defensive driving skills to avoid accidents.

When you drive, make sure that you always use your seatbelt, and be sure and make sure to require passengers in your car to wear theirs as well. Turn off your phone when you get in your car to avoid being distracted by it. Even if you have a hands-free system in your car, incoming calls can still distract your attention away from the road. Never send texts, read texts, check emails, or use the internet while you are driving.

While Los Angeles is known for bumper-to-bumper traffic, try to keep your distance and avoid situations that might force you to brake suddenly. If you can, try to stay at least three seconds back from the vehicle in front of you.[7] This can help you to avoid causing a rear-end collision.[8]

Never drive when you are tired, after drinking, or after using drugs, including prescription medications. Impaired driving can greatly increase your risk of being involved in an accident and could also lead to criminal charges. If you plan to go to a bar with your friends after everything fully reopens, plan to take an Uber or a cab home.

Keep your eyes on the road at all times, and pay attention to what is happening with traffic around you. This can help you to react when someone else cuts you off, when traffic suddenly slows ahead of you, or in other dangerous situations. It is difficult to anticipate what other drivers might do when your eyes are not focused on the road.

Finally, while many people in LA are seemingly addicted to speeding, you should follow the posted speed limits or pace yourself with the flow of traffic. Driving too fast greatly increases your risk of being involved in an accident.

If another driver collides with your vehicle, make sure to report the accident, exchange information with the at-fault driver, and take pictures of the damage to both cars and the scene. Ask any witnesses for their names and contact details so that they can be contacted later. Go to the hospital or your doctor’s office as soon as possible.[9] You might have suffered injuries that you are not immediately aware of, and getting early medical treatment can help to accelerate your recovery.

Get help from an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles

The COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed many activities that people enjoy and has resulted in a substantial decrease in traffic. As the state begins to reopen, it is important for you to drive safely to reduce your risk of being involved in a traffic accident.

If another driver causes an accident in which you are injured, you should talk to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Car accidents leave many people struggling with physical, financial, and emotional harm. By filing an injury claim, you might recover compensation to pay for your losses. Schedule a free consultation with the Steven M. Sweat Personal Injury Lawyers by calling us at 866.966.5240.

Sources

[1] https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/11/06/la-traffic-car-accidents-pandemic/

[2] https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/2019-fatality-data-traffic-deaths-2020-q2-projections#:~:text=The%20FARS%20data%20indicate%20that,the%20same%20period%20in%202019.

[3] https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-06/on-streets-emptied-by-coronavirus-l-a-officials-crack-down-on-speeding

[4] https://laist.com/how-to-new-la/reinvent/takeaways-pedestrian-deaths-traffic-violence.php

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/06/disneyland-baseball-stadiums-california-covid-rules

[6] http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/phcommon/public/media/mediapubhpdetail.cfm?prid=3009

[7] https://www.victimslawyer.com/car-accidents.html#VehicularCollisionsFrequent

[8] https://www.victimslawyer.com/rear-end-collision-attorney-los-angeles.html

[9] https://www.victimslawyer.com/car-accidents.html#PromptMedicalTreatmentLegalConsultation

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