According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, roads and highways saw a 7.2 percent increase in traffic fatalities during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it may seem like staying at home would lead to less traffic and fewer accidents, many reckless drivers are using newly empty roads to drive more dangerously than usual.
Thankfully, there’s still plenty of ways you can stay safe as we all drive into a post-pandemic future. Read on to learn more about the impacts of COVID-19 on road safety and how defensive driving can help you avoid dangerous accidents.
Understanding Increased Traffic Fatalities During the Pandemic
What’s really behind the increased traffic fatalities during the pandemic? From less traffic to less law enforcement, many drivers are now enjoying less oversight—something that has led to riskier behavior.
Shouldn’t less traffic and more open roads result in fewer traffic accidents and fatalities? It’s what many might think, but the reality has been the opposite during the pandemic.
With speeding being a leading cause of 2020’s unprecedented rise in traffic accidents and fatalities, it seems that less traffic has led to an increase in reckless driving. This increase is likely due to drivers assuming that reduced traffic makes it safer to go faster and make riskier maneuvers, which, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, there’s always a risk of collision regardless of how much traffic there is. In fact, busy roads might be safest due to more drivers staying on high alert.
Less Law Enforcement
With less traffic to monitor, many law enforcement departments have shifted their focus away from previously packed roadways during the pandemic. As a result, reckless drivers are not only speeding to their heart’s content, but they’re now more likely to get away with it.
Less law enforcement is bad news for many reasons. While it may seem nice to cruise down the road without worrying about a traffic ticket, this lack of oversight is only another contributing factor to risky and reckless driving. As a result, everyone now stands a greater risk of getting into a collision, and the perpetrators may be more likely to get away with it!
Whether it’s assuming that speeding is safe on open roads or that it’s simply okay to be irresponsible, risky assumptions remain at the core of the rise in traffic accidents during the pandemic.
Many drivers think that risky driving and speeding are the safest choices. Maybe they also feel they’ll get less drenched if they run through a rainstorm. In fact, some of these drivers also believe that safety comes with speed—something that most accident reports will tell you is entirely (and dangerously) wrong.
When it comes to driving, there’s no room for risky assumptions. The only way to truly stay safe is to practice defensive driving by reducing your speed and staying alert, even when it looks like there’s no one else on the road.
Post-Pandemic Safe Driving Tips
Though it may take some time before we return to pre-pandemic levels of road safety, there’s a few things you can still do to guarantee your safety in the meantime. Check out these tips to stay safe on your next drive.
Reduce Your Speed
Driving within the speed limit is one of the most effective ways you can stay safe on the road. Slower speeds not only shorten your stopping distance during an emergency but give you valuable seconds to react to sudden changes and potential accidents. Plus, going slower can also increase your fuel economy and save you money at the pump.
Always Follow Traffic Laws
Pesky as they may be sometimes, traffic laws are ultimately in place to keep you and your fellow drivers safe. By knowing and understanding these laws, you’ll be doing your part in ensuring that everyone gets to where they need to go safely.
Be Alert (Even on Open Roads)
Staying alert is the key to safe driving. No matter your speed, being fully aware of your surroundings allows you to avoid potential accidents and make safe, timely decisions when other drivers are reckless. Alertness is especially important on open roads, as a false sense of security is easily blindsided once an unexpected car or pedestrian suddenly pulls out in front of you.
Take a Defensive Driving Course
No matter how safely we drive, there’s bound to be a thing or two about traffic safety that we left behind in driving school. All drivers can benefit from taking a defensive driving course to refresh their safe driving skills and stay safer on the road.
Drive Safer with Online Defensive Driving Courses
With online courses from Ticket School, it’s never been easier and more affordable to take a defensive driving course. Our interactive online courses help reinforce and refresh your safe driving skills entirely on your own time and schedule. Our courses can also help you dismiss tickets, reduce insurance premiums, and more.