Coronavirus stay-at-home orders are cutting car accidents by as much as 60 percent and saving state taxpayers millions of dollars.
COVID-19 Lockdown is Saving Lives
For millions of Americans who are following stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a silver lining to reduced travel on the road – fewer car accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
States across the country have seen a significant drop in car accidents since stay-at-home orders were imposed. Due to state emergency shutdown orders for all non-essential businesses, most employees of offices, restaurants, retailers, and other establishments are presently working from home. Most freeways and city streets look like desolated areas with few cars on the road.
According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), during the first half of 2018, there were 47,719 reported car crashes in the city of Chicago. In 2019, reported car accidents dropped about 30 percent due to Vision Zero road improvements and city efforts to lower traffic fatalities. In 2020, car accidents have dropped by 60 percent in Chicago, but not because of efforts by city officials. The recent drop is due to coronavirus lockdown orders keeping most drivers off the road.
According to the Illinois State Police, car crash rates across the state dropped by more than 50 percent between April 1 and April 26, 2020. This is easily explained by business and school closures and fewer cars on the road. Normally jammed travel routes like the Eisenhower and Kennedy expressways are experiencing a 50 percent drop in traffic.
Although car accidents on Illinois roads and highways are down significantly, law enforcement is reporting a rise in speeding and reckless driving behaviors, especially among younger drivers. State and city officials say some drivers are using the wide-open roads as an excuse to ignore traffic laws. Many drivers are disobeying posted speed limits, running red lights and stop signs, and ignoring safe driving practices. There has also been a spike in hit-and-run accidents across the state. It’s suspected that fewer cars on the road and fewer people out in public areas are leaving fewer witnesses to these accidents.
As more businesses and public spaces reopen, it’s likely that Chicago auto accident attorneys will see a rise in car accidents and injuries. Recently, Chicago has seen a 14 percent increase in speeding tickets generated by automated cameras, and Illinois State Police are reporting a small rise in Cook County car crashes, likely attributed to reckless driving.