When Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency in Kentucky on March 6, 2020, it ignited a series of events that impacted traffic on state and city roads. Among other things, non-essential businesses were forced to close and companies that could transition their workforces online were encouraged to do so.
The result has been fewer drivers on the road, but has there been a corresponding reduction in the number of car and motorcycle accidents in major cities like Louisville, KY?
Fewer Car and Motorcycle Accidents But More Injuries
When the average monthly collisions in 2019 are compared to those after the March 2020 shutdown, it’s apparent that there were a lot fewer accidents- a 64% decrease, to be exact.
However, a similar trend is not evident when comparing collisions that caused injury or death. Accident injuries during these periods seem to have remained relatively constant. The following graph shows the dramatic drop in average collisions per month, but no similar trend for injuries.
The above data also suggests a greater number of injuries per 100 collisions after shutdown. As shown in the chart below, the increase is more than double from its pre-shutdown period.
Does this mean that even though the number of collisions decreased during this period, more accidents overall ended in injury or death?
Yes and no.
A close examination of the data shows that the drop in the total number of collisions tallies with a similar decrease in the number of accidents that only resulted in property damage.
For example, in 2020, the total number of monthly accidents fell from 1779 to 821 (a decrease of 959) while collisions with property damage dropped from 1453 to 498 (a decrease of 964). This indicates that the decrease in collisions can be attributed to the big reduction in accidents with property damage only.
The graph below clearly shows that both metrics dropped at the same rate.
It’s clear that the number of milder collisions decreased, but what about fatalities? Looking at the data, it’s apparent that:
- Both the total number of fatalities per month and the number of fatalities per 1000 collisions increased after the shutdown.
- While the total number of collisions resulting in injuries and fatalities remained virtually the same, the number of collisions resulting in fatalities went up.
- The number of fatalities per 1000 collisions after the shutdown was over four times higher due to both a significant drop in total collisions (due to a decrease in a number of minor collisions) and an increase in fatalities.
The chart below clearly illustrates the increase in fatalities per 1000 collisions.
- The overall number of collisions per month decreased by 64% after the shutdown.
- Those accidents that only ended in property damage witnessed a similar decrease.
- The number of collisions with injuries stayed about the same, but the number of fatalities increased.
It’s apparent that the streets and highways in and around Louisville were much more dangerous due to COVID-19. The question is- why?
What COVID Factors Impacted Car and Motorcycle Accidents in Louisville, KY?
Factors that may have influenced the above-mentioned trends include:
- There may have been fewer vehicles on the roads after the shutdown, lowering traffic density and resulting in fewer minor accidents like fender-benders. These types of collisions tend to be more frequent during peak hours in high-traffic areas.
- Due to the relatively empty roads, drivers may have felt encouraged to travel at higher speeds, increasing the risk of fatal accidents.
Other factors that may have contributed to more fatal accidents include:
- Distracted driving due to pandemic anxiety. Distraction has always been a major factor in motor vehicle crashes, no matter what caused it. Therefore, when accidents did occur in and around Louisville, they were much more likely to end in injury or death.
- Lack of driving practice. With more people working from home and only venturing out for groceries or healthcare, many drivers may have seen their proficiency behind the wheel go down.
- Being less attentive while driving due to the lower number of vehicles on the road. These drivers may not have been able to react quickly when someone else ran a red light or made an illegal lane change.
- Younger drivers, encouraged by the empty roads, may have been tempted to drive at unsafe speeds.
How to Stay Safe on the Road in 2021
Many Louisville residents continue to remain indoors as much as possible to avoid exposure to COVID-19, but staying at home isn’t always possible, especially when groceries run low, you need to pick up medication, or you have an essential job. Below are some tips for staying safe on the road when you have to travel.
- Go slow. If you have been driving less, avoid hurrying and, if possible, stay away from high-traffic roads and highways until you are feeling more confident.
- Limit the number of places you drive to. The more places you go, the greater your chances of interacting with someone or something carrying the virus.
- Be careful when filling your tank. Wear gloves when touching fuel pumps, keypads, and other common touchpoints at the gas station. If possible, use a contactless form of payment.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently to avoid contaminating the inside of your car. Steering wheels are notorious for harboring bacteria.
- Disinfect high-touch areas in your car more frequently. This includes the steering wheel, dashboard, door handles, seat belts, radio, and cup holders.
- Ask your passengers to take precautions like using hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
- Avoid driving if you feel unwell. Stay home and self-isolate until your healthcare provider has cleared you for travel.
Be especially careful as more and more restrictions ease. Depending on the restriction, it could mean more drivers on the road, some of whom have been driving infrequently, and it’s easy for a serious car or motorcycle accident to occur.
Do You Need an Accident Lawyer?
If you have been injured in a car or motorcycle accident, reach out to a Louisville car accident attorney at the Schafer Law Office immediately. We will give you the legal advice and representation you need to get compensation for all of your damages, including medical bills, loss of income, loss of earning ability, and pain and suffering. You deserve a car accident lawyer who cares, and you’ll find that at the Schafer Law Office. To schedule a consultation, please call (502) 584-9511 or contact us online.