First, the problem was an increase in reckless driving. As a large number of commuters began working from home, many drivers saw the decreased congestion on the roads as an opportunity to turn into Mario Andretti. As a result, the number of fatal accidents increased markedly. Now, as more people are returning to work in some places, two new issues confront commuters.
Cities where workers are returning to their workplaces are facing huge increases in congestion and an increase in car and truck accidents. The main reason is that many workers are avoiding public transportation for fear of coronavirus exposure. Ridership on subways and buses is down significantly. In fact, in San Francisco, bus passengers fell 80% from March to the end of May (June numbers are not out yet). In addition, some cities have begun closing some streets to allow restaurants to utilize that space for outdoor dining.
In response, some cities like London and New York have implemented or proposed congestion charges on vehicles that enter the busiest areas of the city. London is currently imposing an $18.50 charge for vehicles entering the commercial center of the city. New York is scheduled to implement a similar system at the end of the year, although its fate is now in question. And, in an attempt to entice commuters back to public transportation, some cities are allowing passengers to reserve seats on buses and spacing riders a safe distance apart.
As for the second problem, not all commuters have a car so when they swear off public transportation they have to find a new way to get to work. Many are choosing to bike or walk to work, which is resulting in increased pedestrian and bicycle accidents. And a recent report found that the vehicles most-favored by Americans (trucks, SUVs and cross-overs) are the most deadly to pedestrians and bicyclists. Trucks, SUVs and cross-overs are deadlier for three reasons: they are heavier, they are taller and they generally have a more square front-end. Consequently, a larger portion of the vehicle makes more substantial contact with the pedestrian or biker. For instance, an SUV will strike more of a pedestrian’s upper body whereas a lower profile car might only strike the legs. The good news on this front is that more and more cities are dedicating safe space for bicyclists and pedestrians in an effort to battle the vehicle congestion discussed above.
So for these reasons, if you are beginning to commute to work again, please be mindful of your driving. The same pre-pandemic advice continues to apply:
- Be mindful of your speed.
- Do not drive distracted.
- Share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
- Do not drive under the influence.
- Make sure you have adequate insurance for you (underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage) and for the protection of others on the road.
If you or a loved one is involved in a car or truck accident, we offer a free initial consultation. Give us a call and we will review the facts of your accident and let you know whether we think you have a case. Our award-winning lawyers handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you and your family. Stay safe out there and call us if you need us. We will come to you if for any reason you can not come to us.