Road Safety During COVID-19

With fewer cars on the road because of stay-at-home orders and recommendations issued in response to COVID-19, there have been fewer road crashes. The reduction in number of crashes, however, has not decreased in proportion to the reduction in number of vehicles on the road. And, as roads become less crowded with vehicles, many drivers exceed the speed limit at dangerous levels. The crashes that occur are often severe because speed is the biggest determinant of serious injury and mortality.

While there are currently fewer cars on the road, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists on the road has increased significantly. 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 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 speed and do not focus on the pedestrians and cyclists who are out in greater than normal numbers.

Emergency rooms are currently crowded and stretched trying to help those struggling with COVID-19. It is now more important than ever to use good judgment when out on the roads to avoid the need for a visit to the Emergency Room.

Below are some tips and helpful reminders for you as you navigate the roads during these unusual times.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists

  • Always have hand sanitizer with you.
  • If wearing a face mask, be sure that it is positioned so as not to impair vision.
  • Social distancing may require you to walk in the street or bike in non-bicycle lanes. Wear bright-colored clothing or reflective gear so that you are visible to others.
  • Walk facing oncoming traffic if you must walk in the street.
  • If you must cross the street to avoid others, do so with extreme caution for vehicles that may approach or may turn right or left into your path.
  • Use pedestrian crossings when available.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Do not use cell phones or other mobile devices to talk or text while walking or cycling.
  • Check your bicycle regularly to ensure that it is equipped with headlights, taillights and reflectors.
  • Wear a buckled regulation helmet on your ride.
  • Hydrate before you head out, and take water and snacks with you. If you are walking or riding long distances, plan your route so that you don’t need to stop for food or water.
  • If you may need to stop at public restrooms, wear a mask and gloves.

Drivers

  • Always have hand sanitizer in your vehicle.
  • If wearing a face mask, be sure that it is positioned so as not to impair vision.
  • Continue to abide by all road safety laws. Resist the temptation to exceed the speed limit because there are fewer cars on the road.
  • Reduce your speed below the posted speed limit in areas where people are walking and cycling.
  • Be vigilant about checking your surroundings for pedestrians and bicyclists, especially in parking lots where shoppers pick up grocery and curbside food orders.
  • Be on the lookout for groups of bicyclists who may be traveling within several feet of each other.
  • Wear a mask and gloves and use hand sanitizer when you use a public restroom or pump gas. Gas pumps have been mentioned specifically by those in the medical community as surfaces through which COVID-19 can spread.

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