In the weeks and months since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of schools and businesses, traffic on LA highways has dropped dramatically. The frustrating bumper-to-bumper traffic for which our area is known is significantly reduced, which in theory is great news. However, an unexpected side effect of the cutdown in traffic is that some residents are giving in to the temptation to get out on those highways and test the limits of their speedometers.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), many states are reporting that, although there has been a drastic decrease in traffic, auto accident fatalities are on the rise. California’s average speed is up 30 percent, and the California Highway Patrol caught one driver at 117 miles per hour – without insurance. One CHP officer even clocked a driver going 150 miles per hour.
Fewer vehicles on the road doesn’t give anyone license to make their own rules. In fact, the WSJ article mentions many states report that, even with traffic down, fatal car crashes are up. High-speed crashes tend to leave victims with fatal injuries, and empty highways provide a tempting opportunity for reckless drivers to break the law with devastating consequences.
Pedestrians rarely survive car accidents, as highlighted by a recent tragic accident where four pedestrians were killed when struck by a car in Escondido. During a time like the COVID-19 pandemic, there are fewer cars on the road, but pedestrian traffic is increased. In an accident at 25mph, a pedestrian has an 89% to 90% chance of survival, while at 40mph, that chance of survival can drop to as low as 35%.
In these times, being involved in a car accident comes with additional risks. Victims may experience other complications, like potential exposure to coronavirus, delay in medical treatment, or an increase in pain and suffering. You may never fully recover from your injuries – physical or emotionally – due to the unique circumstances of your accident.
Stay-at-home orders benefit our essential workers, keeping the roads open for first responders, truck drivers, and others who keep California up and running. Our emergency rooms and hospitals continue to be overwhelmed, and preventing car accidents is a good way to keep medical resources available for our citizens affected by the pandemic.
Staying safe on Los Angeles highways
If you are an essential worker, or have other obligations which require you to drive, the best way to stay safe is to refrain from speeding. Keep aware of speed limits on empty highways and streets, even when it feels like you are keeping up with traffic; it is easy to feel tempted to speed on roads that are typically congested.
If you encounter speeding or reckless or drivers, simply give them space. Do not engage in similar behavior, like refusing to let them pass or slowing down. Lawfully change lanes, allow them to pass, and put some distance between your vehicle and theirs. Avoiding careless drivers is the best way to avoid a potentially fatal accident. When you feel that your safety or the safety of others is in jeopardy, pull off the highway safely and notify the local police.
The Los Angeles car accident attorneys at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP continue to protect those injured due to the recklessness of others. We fight to ensure you secure the compensation to which you’re entitled to recover from your injuries and losses. Contact us today to set up a consultation and find out how we can assist you. Call us at 310-474-1582 or complete our contact form.
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With more than 25 years’ experience as a trial lawyer, Partner Patrick McNicholas exclusively represents victims in personal injury, product liability, sexual assault and other consumer-oriented matters, such as civil rights, aviation disasters and class actions. Learn more about his professional background here.