New York State has begun a phased reopening, and as a result traffic is slowly but surely beginning to build up once again.
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been the cause of a great deal of hardship for many Americans; this is due to not only the illness itself, but the many by additional issues springing from attempts to curb its spread, such as stay-at-home orders, mandatory business closures, and the like.
These mandates have caused economic turmoil in New York and across the county as many people find themselves sitting at home – many without paychecks – but these problems born from COVID-19 have provided unexpected benefit- with far fewer cars on the road than is the norm, the number of car accidents have gone correspondingly down as well.
270 million Americans are currently socially isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic, translating to far emptier streets and thus fewer opportunities for fender-benders. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), there were 66,554 car crashes in New York City in 2014; this translates to approximately 5,546 accidents per month. In contrast, April 2020 – the very height of the pandemic – saw only 4,037 New York City-related accidents, a reduction of 27.21 percent.
The reason why is easy to explain- since the start of March, when stay-at-home orders first were issued by local and state governments, traffic overall lowered by 35 to 50 percent, depending on the region. In addition, the amount of mileage that vehicles were pulling on was also lower, by an average of 92 percent in Manhattan during early April.
However, New York State has been meeting the required metrics in order to begin a phased reopening of its economy once again, and as a result traffic is slowly but surely beginning to build up once again. Before we know it, the roads in New York will be back to their usual congested selves, especially with the summer season upon us. Unfortunately, this is also sure to result in a large uptick up the number of road accidents as well.
Summer will present a bit of a quandary in regards to traffic safety on New York roads. After all, summer is typically a season where people take vacations, weekend road trips, excursions to the beach, and many other outings inspired by the beautiful weather. However, summer of 2020 will probably be more substantial in this regard due to the fact that many residents have been cooped up in their homes for the past few months due to social distancing requirements and are itching to get out and have some of the fun they’ve been denying themselves up until now. While many vacation spots have yet to open, or are operating at a reduced capacity to ensure the safety of patrons and staff, there is nonetheless a high likelihood that traffic will at least be at normal levels this summer – if not above-average – due to people just plain wanting to hit the road and unwind however they can.
The fact that several major holidays take place during the summer – Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day – will also increase traffic in their wake as well, and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety actually refers to the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the “100 Deadliest Days” in terms of fatal car accidents.
So, will this swell in traveling raise the risk of an increase in car accidents on New York roadways this summer? While the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is something that we would all like to get behind us so we can all return to the lives we knew and loved beforehand, there are a number of factors in play that will likely contribute to a rise in roadway mishaps this summer. People typically drive more often in the summer, and improving economic conditions – such that we are experiencing now as the lockdown orders are being lifted – also result in higher driving rates as well.
So while you may be excited to finally get out into the great outdoors this summer and take a road trip with your friends or loved ones, just be aware that there are thousands of your fellow residents who have the same idea. And with so many people sure to be on the roadways this summer, extra caution so be taken by all to ensure that our recovery from COVID-19 doesn’t lead to more loss of life.
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