As Pandemic Shutdowns Change Road Conditions, Distracted Driving Accidents Are Becoming Worse
Though workday commutes have become a distant memory for many, our roadways haven’t necessarily become safer. Data from across the country—Texas included—have shown the number of deadly crashes has actually increased since the same time last year. Fewer autos are on the road, meaning the crash rate hasn’t just ticked up a notch. It’s skyrocketed.
The number of deadly accidents we’re experiencing isn’t just tragic. It’s also confusing. Accident rates have decreased overall, but it seems that change has been caused by a decline in mild collisions. Police suggest dangerous accidents are still occurring because cars are speeding more. With emptier roads, cars are no longer slowed by traffic; law enforcement has issued more citations for the infraction lately. Even car crashes that happen between two vehicles moving 25 miles per hour can cause injuries. When drivers are going faster, more serious injuries can occur.
One Big Factor: Driver Distraction
Cell phone distractions aren’t new, but the pace of the news certainly is. Nearly all national publications are running some sort of live blog to track updates to the COVID-19 pandemic. As readers, it sometimes seems we’re getting push alerts and emails every few minutes. We’re also calling our loved ones more than usual, which, while better than texting, can take enough of a driver’s attention that a close call becomes an accident.
Distracted driving is a longstanding issue in Texas; a survey conducted by insurance comparison site The Zebra found 7% of Texans used their phone while driving. That number nets us a tie for the fifth-worst state in the nation (Connecticut also had a 7% phone use rate). With people driving faster, looking down to read a text message or dial a friend is a bigger danger than usual. The further a driver travels without looking at the road, the more likely they are to miss signs of impending danger. Between this risk and an increase in distracting alerts, we can begin to see why the rate of fatal accidents has increased lately.
What About Mental Distraction?
For many, the novel coronavirus has introduced new worries into their lives. If you or a loved one is in an at-risk group, it’s likely you’ve thought about the “what ifs.” For those who had work hours cut or faced furloughs and layoffs, economic anxiety may be constantly weighing on your mind. If you’re an essential worker, you may spend your days wondering when you’ll get sick. For parents who are juggling working from home and facilitating their child’s online education, you just have too much going on. There’s no end to the new burdens this pandemic has produced. However, skeptics have expressed doubt about whether mental strain can cause drivers to zone out.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), yes it can. The agency lists three types of distraction drivers may experience:
- Cognitive (thinking about something other than driving)
- Manual (taking your hands off the wheel)
- Visual (looking away from the road)
The increased stress all of us are feeling may unfortunately lead to more dangerous roads. Keep this in mind if you are behind the wheel. Don’t let the clearer roads tempt you to drive over the speed limit—give yourself time to react to sudden hazards.
For Accident Victims, What’s Next?
As the statistics show, some people have already suffered from accidents with distracted drivers. Whether you are in a car, on a bike, or on foot, your safety does depend on the actions around you. Extreme caution may not make up for erratic behaviors made by distracted drivers. Those who are hit are likely eligible to file for any damages incurred by the at-fault party.
The last thing anyone needs right now is another source of worries. If you or a loved one was hit by a distracted driver, our firm is here to help. We’ve helped many accident victims pursue justice, taking on the hard work of filing a claim so they can focus on their recovery.
If you are looking for help, we’re here for you. Call (361) 238-2789 at any time to schedule a free consultation. You can also reach out to us online.