It’s easy to appreciate just how much the roads have changed in such a short amount of time. Areas that were previously congested are now free of bumper to bumper traffic, and commutes that might have taken an hour or so are accomplished in a fraction of the time.
While it seems like pedestrians would be safer with fewer cars and trucks on the roads, this isn’t necessarily the case everywhere. It’s true that some cities have seen reductions in the number of pedestrian accidents, but other areas have seen accident rates return to pre-pandemic levels.
According to media reports, the authorities believe these increases could be due to motorists and pedestrians alike engaging in riskier behaviors. For example, some motorists driver faster than usual because they enjoy having the road to themselves. Similarly, pedestrians might take it for granted that the roads are clear of traffic and be less vigilant as a result.
Pedestrian Fatalities Jumped
First, pedestrian deaths have been increasing for a number of years. According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), pedestrian fatalities increased by five percent between 2018 and 2019. Over the past 10 years, pedestrian deaths have increased by 60 percent.
At the same time, all other traffic fatalities have increased by just two percent between 2009 and 2018.
Pedestrian Accidents Decreased at the Start of the Pandemic
In the beginning of the pandemic, many cities saw a reduction in the number of fatal pedestrian accidents. It makes sense that removing cars from the roads would make the roads and cities safer places for pedestrians and bicyclists. Many cities also reported a sharp decline in motor vehicle accidents.
In California, for example, motor vehicle accidents fell by 50 percent when cities started issuing quarantine orders. This corresponded to a 60 percent reduction in traffic.
However, decreases in traffic and pedestrian accidents in some areas was only a temporary phenomenon. In Los Angeles, for example, car accident rates saw an initial decline but then reversed course and surged back to 2019 levels as of May 2020.
According to one report, the Los Angeles Police Department says it has observed an “alarming increase” in motor vehicle fatalities starting in the latter part of March 2020.
Reports state that police departments believe the increase is due to a “surge of speeding” now that streets have emptied. Additionally, less congested streets has led to more people walking and bicycling.
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Bicycling Accidents in NYC
New York City can also offer some statistics about the reemergence of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths due to less congested streets. After an initial reduction in the number of pedestrian and bicycle accidents at the start of shutdown orders, the city has seen a troubling increase in these types of accidents.
For example, when you compared the beginning of March 2020 to the same time period in 2019, there has been a 43 percent increase in bicycle accidents.
"Bicycle accidents in Manhattan and other parts of New York happen for many reasons. Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents involving auto accidents include:
- Speeding drivers
- Distracted drivers
- Drunk drivers
- Inattentive drivers
- Poor road maintenance"
Protect Yourself as a Pedestrian
If you walk around the city, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. Here are three tips to consider.
- Don’t walk distracted – Distracted walking can be deadly. Just because there aren’t as many cars on the road doesn’t mean you should assume you have the road to yourself.
Avoid looking down at your phone or responding to a text or an email as you walk. You should also avoid wearing headphones, as this can limit your ability to hear traffic.
- Wear bright or reflective clothing – There might be fewer cars on the streets, but this doesn’t mean pedestrians have the roads to themselves. In fact, some authorities have reported that motorists are breaking speed limits and even engaging in races because they feel free to disregard traffic rules now that streets are emptier.
Wearing bright colors or reflective clothing can help motorists see you more clearly when you’re walking.
- Obey traffic rules – Even when you know you have the right of way as a pedestrian, it’s important to make sure a motorist sees you before using a crosswalk or otherwise putting yourself in the path of a motor vehicle. It goes without saying that the human body is no match for a car. Protect yourself by following all traffic rules.
When to Contact a New York City Pedestrian Accident Lawyer About Your Case
If you have been injured in a pedestrian or bicycle accidents, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages. There are deadlines for filing a claim, so it’s important to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case as soon as possible.
Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC
Our law firm represents clients in all five boroughs of New York (NY): Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as Suffolk County & Nassau County on Long Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, and throughout the State of New York.
- https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page (as of November 30, at 1 p.m.)
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.
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