The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways people communicate, work, and even travel. In many places across the U.S., roads stand virtually empty, a stark reminder that venturing out of the house carries significant risk. Americans have been stuck inside for weeks. But as summer approaches, people weary of staying indoors are starting to get back on the road again.
Some are taking the plunge and traveling longer distances, while others are content to get in the car and drive the familiar roads closer to home. While the freedom of the open road may feel great after being stuck in one place for so long, you have to wonder how safe the roads are now and how conditions will be as more people begin to venture out.
States with Largest Relative Uptick in Travel
It’s clear that many people across the U.S. are ready to get back on the road, and for some, it will be the first time they have ventured out in weeks. While driving rates are still relatively low because of the pandemic, some states have started to record a noticeable uptick in the number of people traveling on their roads again.
The Associated Press has gathered data from a company that aggregates data from smartphones and GPS navigation. Then AP found that Michigan, Minnesota, and Montana are among the states seeing the largest uptick in road travel right now. A spokesperson for AAA also notes that people in smaller metro areas seem to be more comfortable going out and getting behind the wheel again.
Increase in Driving Blamed on ‘Lockdown Fatigue’
One of the big questions is, why has there been a sudden uptick in travel recently? The coronavirus is still out there, and it is still spreading.
One answer may be related to the feeling of cabin fever – being stuck in one location for an extended amount of time. People have faced unprecedented restrictions on their movements in the name of public health.
Now that restrictions in many communities are being eased, people weary of staying in their homes are starting to sample the outside world once again.
Multiple news organizations dubbed the phenomenon “lockdown fatigue.” The lengthy confinement indoors, combined with warm summer weather, means that many people are ready to get out of the house again.
How Does Lockdown Fatigue Affect the Traffic in Rural Counties?
In an interview with the Associated Press, a spokesperson for AAA says that it is people in smaller metro areas that have more confidence in venturing out and driving again. This may be because those in smaller metro areas don’t have as far to go, so they feel more comfortable traveling those short distances.
While rural counties haven’t been hit as hard are large metro populations, coronavirus has taken its toll and may continue to do so. With fewer cases, many rural areas may be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to the virus, thinking that they are in the clear while the danger still looms. A report in Time shows that the average number of infections in rural American has grown.
What’s more, other reports point to another significant impact that the coronavirus may inflict upon rural America, the deterioration of rural highways and bridges. Many need repairs, and maintenance on these rural roadways may be shelved, causing more than just headaches for people who live and travel through these communities. Deterioration of these roads can lead to potholes, damage to cars and trucks, and even accidents.
Are Crashes Increasing with More Traffic?
You would think that with fewer cars out on the roads today, there would be fewer accidents as well. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Minnesota is one of several states that has seen an uptick in traffic, but also an increase in car accidents as well. Even though traffic numbers are not at pre-coronavirus levels, traffic accidents in some areas are.
News reports highlight the fact that even though there are still about 50 percent fewer cars on the road today, people are dying in car accidents at a higher rate. Law enforcement agencies are seeing a decrease in drunk driving cases but point to an increase in speeding and distracted driving as the two main culprits for fatal collisions.
Fewer cars out on the roads today may be giving people a false sense of security. Drivers may think that fewer cars on the road mean that it is perfectly fine to take eyes off the road to check a text message. Reckless drivers may travel at excessive speeds to get to their destinations, sometimes even just for the thrill of it, since they think there is little risk involved.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In April, the Minnesota State Patrol stopped 58 people driving over 100 mph, and another 143 drivers were stopped for doing at least 100 mph. These behaviors are negligent and dangerous, and they are costing people their health and their lives.
When Should You Call a Lawyer?
Seemingly empty streets don’t mean that drivers get a free pass to do whatever they want. Rules and regulations are put in place to protect all drivers. Whether we are in the middle of a pandemic or not, these rules still apply. Driving recklessly is never acceptable behavior – it is deadly behavior.
If you have been severely injured in a car accident, you need legal representation to help you recover the compensation you deserve. At Wocl Leydon, LLC, our Connecticut car accident lawyers strive to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions while seeking the maximum compensation for your injuries and time missed from work.
A reckless driver’s insurance company isn’t in the business of helping you, we are. Call us today for a case review.