COVID-19 has impacted road safety in a number of ways over the past year. In the early months, lockdowns resulted in fewer cars on the road, and many drivers increased their speed significantly. And while there were fewer vehicles on the road, this did not lead to a prolonged period of reductions in deaths and, in some countries, no reductions in deaths at all. In fact, the crashes that occurred were often more severe as speed is a huge determinant of serious injury and mortality. A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that “During the height of the national public health emergency and associated lockdowns, driving patterns and behaviors changed significantly, and drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seatbelts, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.”
While traffic has increased over the past many months with the return of some to work and school, reluctance to use public transport and carpools, and the large number of delivery vehicles, many of the risky behaviors continue. The problem is compounded by the significant increase in pedestrians and bicyclists on the roads. It has become clearer than ever before that roads do not belong to vehicles alone but rather are shared spaces for cars, pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and other modes of transportation.
Because of the recommendation to keep at least 6 feet from others, people often walk and bike ride in the street to maintain this distance. In addition, while some drivers have become more aware and careful of pedestrians and bicyclists, others are distracted or fail to focus on the pedestrians and cyclists who are out in greater numbers.
Below are some tips and helpful reminders for you as you navigate the roads during these unusual times.