With COVID-19 restrictions constantly in flux in the state of California and the recent implementation of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 4-tier, color-coded reopening plan, residents across the state have seen the full spectrum of car accident and traffic trends. Since the first coronavirus case in the United States, Californians have seen car accident trends shift but remain high as public health measures tighten and relax more than once, revealing that neither the old nor the new normal is safe from car accidents.
Coronavirus Restrictions and Driving
While there were no actual restrictions placed on driving in Orange County, the public health restrictions in California left many people bunkering down at home to flatten the curve. Bloomberg News recently reported that Americans have collectively saved about $758 million a day since the beginning of the pandemic by working at home instead of commuting. This goes to show how widespread the decrease in driving was and still is in the United States; Orange County is no exception.
Orange County’s Tier Ranking
To many residents’ frustration, Orange County has implemented and lifted restrictions more than once during the pandemic. As reported by ABC7, this frustration may be eased shortly as Orange County is expected to move up from the purple tier to the red tier in the near future. The purple
tier denotes widespread coronavirus cases and requires many non-essential indoor businesses to remain closed to the public; meaning, as of now, Orange County residents have had few places to travel to. In addition, the restrictions on surrounding counties also affect Orange County. The California Employment Development Department’s Labor Market Information Division found about 230,000 Orange County residents commute to jobs beyond county lines. The division further found that Orange County is the workplace of more than 300,000 out-of-county residents. Once businesses in and around the county finally open their doors, traffic is expected to return to its pre-pandemic patterns as workers and consumers flood the streets in cars, trucks and motorcycles.
A 50% Plunge, Then a 23.5% Rise According to a study conducted by UC Davis, California’s traffic collisions and fatalities dropped by 50% in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. But then, the pandemic stretched on, and so did restrictions, leading to empty streets scarcely populated with impatient, stressed drivers. Overall, the National Safety Council’s preliminary estimates for motor-vehicle death rates in the United States remain down by 6% for the first five months of 2020 compared to those of 2019. Yet the rate of fatalities per miles driven reveals a 23.5% increase from May 2019 to May 2020. This data shows that while traffic may be scarcer, these empty streets have given rise to a trend of reckless driving.
What About Car Accidents During Precedented Times?
Crashes were on the downtrend before the pandemic, but they still clocked in at over 39,000 fatalities in 2018. Once counties open again and bring more residents back on the road, it is not illogical to expect car accidents to return to these old figures. For instance, once the Bay Area started to lift restrictions, formerly crowded bridges and freeways were once again packed with cars.
What to Expect with Restrictions Lifting in California
It seems coronavirus restrictions may not matter that much in correlation with car crashes. If counties stay closed, they could be met with more reckless driving and its associated spike in fatalities despite reduced traffic; if restrictions are lifted, more cars will be on the road, and while this may mitigate reckless driving, a return to traffic-packed streets and highways resulting in almost 40,000 car crash fatalities a year is likely to follow.
Drive Safe and Prepare for Accidents
While these statistics may seem grim, there are actions you can take to avoid car accidents and prepare yourself for when they do happen. Primarily, make sure to wear a seatbelt, stay alert while driving and maintenance your car regularly. Take time to ensure your insurance is up to date — you don’t want to be involved in an accident and get stuck with a bill that insurance could have easily covered. Lastly, don’t neglect the rules of the road, even when empty streets seem like an opportunity to test how fast your car can go from 0 to 60. If you are still involved in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, make sure to avoid making these all too common mistakes.
At the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg, our lawyers are experienced in representing victims of car accidents and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for them. If you were injured due to another individual’s reckless driving, we can help defend you against their claims otherwise and fight for your right to compensation. This year has been difficult enough; let us take care of the legal work so you can focus on recovery. Contact the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg online today to speak to a lawyer. Our firm takes cases on a contingency fee basis.