Since most of us have spent the majority of this year in quarantine due to stay-at-home orders and remote working and learning, the lack of mass commuting has allowed the streets to experience less traffic on the whole. However, while overall traffic has decreased, fatalities have been on the rise. Emptier roads have welcomed more room for mistakes and, in turn, fatal accidents.
But, you may be wondering, “what are the facts?”
The Travelers Institute reveals the spike in pedestrian fatalities in 1980 had been on a general decline until 2015, when they increased by 20% in the first half of 2020.
According to 2017 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 26% of pedestrian fatalities occurred between 6 – 9 p.m. Fatal collisions happened most often during weekday mornings and weekend evenings. Additionally, almost half (46%) of fatal incidents involved alcohol, either on the part of the driver or pedestrian. Furthermore, Texas had the third highest number of pedestrian fatalities and the highest number of motor vehicle traffic fatalities.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, fatal car accidents have spiked, even with a decrease in overall collisions, reports the Villarreal and Begum Law Firm. For example, Texas had a 6% increase in roadway fatalities in early 2020. While there is less traffic, there is more recklessness and speeding. Distracted driving, including phone usage, is up by 38%, and speeding is up by 27% as well. Also, there has been a 20% increase in collisions per million miles since lockdown began.
The best way to reduce fatalities is to prevent accidents altogether. Vigilance is key for both pedestrians and drivers, and a preventative approach is the best approach. Below are some safety reminders to keep in mind:
As a pedestrian, remember to…
- Use the sidewalk or shoulder to avoid being in the road and face the flow traffic.
- Exercise caution and remain alert at all times, limiting any distractions like phones.
- Utilize crosswalks and intersections, if possible, or cross the street in a well-lit area.
- Be visible, wearing bright colors during the day and reflective gear at night.
- Look out for cars reversing in driveways and parking lots.
- Stay sober, and follow all traffic signs and laws for pedestrians.
As a driver, remember to…
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians, as they have the right of way.
- Always stop at crosswalks and pedestrian crossing signs, and never pass vehicles that may be stopped in those areas.
- Stay focused, slow down, and be prepared to stop when turning or approaching a crosswalk.
- Never drive under the influence or while distracted.
- Practice defensive driving, and follow the speed limit and road signs.
- Exercise caution when backing up, as pedestrians may not always be visible in the rearview mirror.
- Limit any distractions, such as cellphones or messing with the radio.
- Abstain from aggressive driving.
So, what can you do in your community?
As a board member and resident, you can…
- Document any problem areas you notice in your neighborhood.
- Discuss with fellow community members possible solutions to threats to community safety, such as posting speed limit signs.
- Organize committee(s) dedicated to raising awareness to street safety.
- Help neighbors make the most of the community by engaging in or creating events that bring awareness to walking hazards and best practices, working together to make the community more pedestrian friendly.
- Understand your state and local laws regarding street safety.
- Communicate with elected officials about concerns that may require legislative action.
Here at Blue Lime Insurance Group, your community’s safety is a priority. According to the CDC, car accident fatalities in 2013 resulted in $44 billion in medical and work loss expenses, and in 2018, Arizona accounted for $1.37 billion in costs related to car crashes and Texas accounted for $5.70 billion. On average, according to the National Safety Council, as of 2018, its costs $1,659,000 for each death in a motor vehicle accident, $96,200 for each nonfatal disabling injury, $22,800 to $27,800 for possible to evident injuries sustained, $12,200 for no injuries sustained, and $4,500 for each property damage crash, including non-disabling injuries.
It costs a lot of money to pay for a car accident, especially with fatalities involved; but, it costs so much less, sometimes even nothing, to prevent one. By equipping yourself with safe driving and pedestrian practices and encouraging safety measures in your community, you could save a life.