If there has been any silver lining to the shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 response, it’s the dramatic decline in traffic-related fatalities nationwide.
As businesses closed their doors and travel was restricted to essential needs only, roadways became nearly abandoned. It makes sense, then, that with fewer cars on the road, there were less accidents reported.
States that responded early to suggested coronavirus travel restrictions benefited immediately from reduced traffic and fewer accidents. In fact, New Jersey car accident attorneys advise that fatal traffic accidents in New Jersey plunged during the coronavirus pandemic to nearly 50-year lows.
Then and Now: New Jersey Car Accidents Before and After COVID-19
Before the COVID-19 response altered community habits and travel patterns, deaths on New Jersey roadways maintained a consistent pattern for 2020 to years prior. New Jersey Police Data reported that car-related fatalities in March 2020 were virtually on par with fatality reports from March 2019, and were only three less than the average from 2015-2018.
Fast forward one month to April 2020, when unnecessary travel became restricted amid the coronavirus. New Jersey State Police documented a nearly 35% drop in fatal car accidents from April 2020 compared against the prior year in April 2019. The year of COVID-19 also marked the lowest car crash deaths for April since 1968.
Will New Jersey Death Tolls Continue to Drop During the Coronavirus?
While State Police advise that car accident fatalities are down 9% in 2020 compared to 2019, they caution that driver behavior is still resulting in fatal car accidents. Given the reduction in New Jersey traffic by nearly 62%, there is concern that the rate of decline in traffic-related fatalities is not commensurate with the decrease in traffic.
A possible reason for the disparity between reduced traffic fatalities and fewer cars on the road is that drivers view open roads as opportunities to engage in high-risk behaviors while driving.
According to Pam Shadel Fischer, a Governors Highway Safety Association senior director. “There is a sense that because of COVID-19, law enforcement is diverted”. However, drivers should be cautioned that hazardous behaviors behind the wheel, such as speeding and driving while intoxicated or distracted, can still result in fatalities even in the absence of heavy traffic.
As New Jersey travel restrictions ease after the coronavirus shutdown, drivers will need to be extra cautious to engage in safe driving practices.
Help from New Jersey Car Accident Attorneys During the Coronavirus Pandemic
While New Jersey drivers have benefited from reduced traffic and traffic-related fatalities during the coronavirus pandemic, driving still presents inherent dangers. For drivers taking to the roads, there remains a need for mindfulness about traffic conditions, roadway hazards, and personal behaviors behind the wheel.
If you or a loved one is injured in a New Jersey car accident due to another’s negligence during the coronavirus pandemic, help is available. Contact an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer today for a complete case review and assistance filing your compensation claim.