You would think that with fewer vehicles on the road due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the streets and highways would be safer, and the number of road accidents would drop.
However, the number of people killed in road mishaps in the United States instead rose 4.6% from January to September 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Authorities are blaming the increase in traffic crash-related deaths on the risky driving behavior of people who get lulled into a false sense of security by the dearth of vehicles on the road.
Because driving lanes have become so much broader and clearer, many drivers took to driving faster than usual. They probably saw that there is a lack of enforcement due to the pandemic, which emboldened them to speed up and commit all kinds of traffic violations.
Still, the perceived lack of traffic stops in the time of COVID-19 is not an excuse to neglect road safety. To avoid becoming a statistic or facing, among other things, vehicular endangerment charges, it would be in your best interest to do the following:
Follow Speed Limits
Most people have a need for speed, and it’s really tempting to fill that need when there are so few vehicles on the road.
Nevertheless, fewer vehicles on the road don’t mean it’s safe to drive fast. You could lose control of your car at certain speeds, and you could hit a road barrier, the few other vehicles on the road, or worse, pedestrians or cyclists.
Follow speed limits at all times, pandemic or not.
Wear Your Seatbelt At All Times
With more drivers driving at faster speeds during this pandemic, there is always the risk that you’ll cross paths with one of them.
To be on the safe side, always buckle up when you go driving. After all, wearing your seat belt is the single most effective way to protect yourself in the event of a crash.
When buckling up, always remember to:
- Secure the shoulder belt across the rib cage and the lap belt across your pelvis to better withstand crash forces.
- Keep the shoulder belt away from your neck.
- The lap belt should not rest across your stomach. It should be firmly placed across your hips.
- Refrain from putting the shoulder belt under your arm.
Follow All Traffic Signals and Road Signs
Even when there are no other vehicles at an intersection, always wait for the traffic light to turn green. A speeding driver emboldened by the near-emptiness of roads might just pop up trying to beat the red light, and you wouldn’t want to be on that vehicle’s path.
Far too many road accidents have been caused by people driving too close to the car in front of them.
Aside from possible car damage that may result if the vehicle ahead of you suddenly steps on the brakes, you could get involved in a road rage incident that could even be more dangerous.
In a world where there are fewer cars on the road, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to be tailgating with all the available space. It would be even more senseless to do this when the driving conditions are bad, like wet or icy roads.
The three-second rule applies during COVID-19 as much as it did before it became a pandemic.
If you pass a tree, telephone pole, or any fixed object less than three seconds after the vehicle in front of you passed it, then you are too close. Reduce your speed to increase the separation between your cars.
Keep Your Situational Awareness At A High Level
As mentioned earlier, the reduced number of vehicles on the road due to the pandemic can lull you into a false sense of security. Some speed up, while others ignore road safety rules.
Then there are those who become complacent about their driving and lower their guard.
There is no road scenario that allows any driver to be lax about their situational awareness.
Drivers must always be alert and mindful of other vehicles, drivers, and pedestrians, even when there are few of them around. Constantly scanning your entire driving environment can help keep you out of trouble.
Never Drive Impaired
Drunk driving has already ruined the lives of tens of thousands of people long before the pandemic.
Although some areas reported a decline in driving under the influence or DUI arrests in the time of COVID-19, others aren’t so lucky.
DUI will always be a criminal offense, with or without a global pandemic.
If you get arrested for DUI during COVID-19, your risk of contracting the coronavirus will likely increase, as you will be spending a night (at the very least) in jail, sharing a cell with strangers who could be carriers.
And if you drive drunk or high on drugs, you could get involved in a car crash that might hurt other people.
Always stay safe on the road, even long after the COVID-19 pandemic goes away.