Experts say risky driving may be the "new normal"
Driving in rush-hour traffic on busy roads like I-680, Main Street, or Ygnacio Valley Road is already stressful. But according to a new study, morning and evening travel during rush hour is more dangerous this year than usual.
The problem is an increase in car accidents caused by speeding, according to research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Speeding, along with other risky driving, increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. On less busy roads, many people let their good driving habits slip.
As the pandemic subsided, there was hope that good driving practices would return. So far, researchers say, they have not.
Car accidents are often devastating, and the effects can last a lifetime. Typical car accident injuries include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, nerve damage, and whiplash.
In California, the speeding situation is grim. According to Go Safely California:
- In April 2021, the California Highway Patrol handed out more than 2,200 tickets for driving at speeds of 100 mph or more.
- About 1,220 people were killed in speeding crashes in 2020.
Locally, speeding and alcohol are suspected factors in a recent fatal car accident on Highway 160 just north of the Antioch Bridge.
Rush-hour car accidents
To get a better handle on the situation, IIHS took a closer look at what's happening by conducting a study in Virginia. Analysts set out to determine the most dangerous hours for motorists.
"The empty roads probably tempted pandemic-stressed drivers to put the pedal down," says Jessica Cicchino, a VP at IIHS. "But information collected since the lockdowns ended and the roads filled back up suggests that risky driving has become the new normal."
The study looked at data for more than 500 speed-counters and compared their activities year to year. Here's what they found out:
- Overall, traffic was down by 25 percent during the pandemic lockdown.
- Although there were fewer cars, vehicles caught speeding at rates of 10 mph or more over the limit went up by 30-40 percent on all roads, except rural arterials.
- On weekdays, rush hours had the highest risk of a speed-involved crash compared to other times of the day and night. The proportion of vehicles going 10 mph or more over the speed limit rose by:
- 43 percent from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
- 63 percent from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- The fatal crash rate rose 7 percent in 2020 despite fewer drivers on the road.
- The number of deadly accidents involving alcohol and drivers ages 18-20 rose 40 percent.
- Bad driving habits continue. According to 2021 crash data, researchers say that fatal speeding accidents are up 5 percent.
Talk to a Walnut Creek car accident lawyer.
It doesn't matter where or when the accident happened; crash victims deserve compensation for their losses. If you were injured or a loved one died in a car accident, you can learn your legal rights and options by scheduling a free case evaluation with our law firm. A member of our team is available to hear from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
At Clancy & Diaz, LLP, we have a reputation for thorough crash investigations, rock-solid cases, and fierce negotiating skills. We are an established personal injury law firm with offices in Walnut Creek, Antioch, and Pittsburg. We hold negligent drivers accountable for the pain and damage they cause.
To find out more about how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free case evaluation with an experienced Walnut Creek car accident attorney.