There is no doubt that 2020 will be a year few of us forget. It will be forever linked with words like coronavirus, social distancing, quarantine, sickness, and tragically death. It is clear that this pandemic has forever changed every aspect of our lives including how we think about life and its meaning. There is no area of human existence this tragedy has not affected and will continue to affect for generations to come. This includes our travel behavior, especially our daily commute to and from work and our local travel to and from the grocery store, the hair salon, or the gym. Life has changed and will continue to change, including how we drive and what we experience when we drive.
Nearly ten weeks have passed since many jurisdictions including NY issued “stay at home“ or “shelter in place” orders. These measures provided that only essential workers could report to duty. A noticeable consequence was an incredible reduction in car traffic. City streets and major highways like Interstate 87, the West Side Highway, the Belt Parkway, the Long Island Expressway and the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway became veritable ghost towns with little to no traffic at all, regardless of the day or the time. Delays at city bridges and tunnels that often define NYC traffic patterns evaporated. For those of us who ventured out on the roadway during these times, probably reveled in the pleasure of getting from point to point in considerably less time. Many drivers during this time safely increased their speed and proceeded to execute turns and lane changes with less caution compared to traditional conditions.
These newly acquired habits won’t play well as vehicular traffic returns to our roadways. Moreover, there is a significant likelihood that those who chose mass transit pre-coronavirus will switch to driving to work to avoid the increased risk of contracting the virus. These drivers are likely to be less sophisticated in navigating the demands of city driving. They are also less likely to be familiar with road patterns, traditionally congested areas, and speed limits. These factors may contribute to a higher number of auto accidents. Lack of familiarity with the roads, inexperience, and stress are usually contributing factors to auto accidents. They will contribute to be so post-coronavirus. We will all have to adjust to a new world once it is safe to venture out to work, to school, to recreate, and socialize. This will cause some anxiety and stress. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. We should prepare for these eventualities now while we have the time.
These factors and others such as traffic pattern changes, cheaper auto insurance due to hardship discounts and especially the emotion, frustration and risk-taking of drivers anxious to get back to normal will regrettably contribute to significant accidents and injuries.
Rheingold, Guiffra, Ruffo, and Plotkin has been a local and national leader in representing victims of all types of car accidents. If you or a loved one has been harmed due to a motor vehicle accident please contact us immediately to protect your rights and ensure the highest potential recovery for your injury or loss.