With the majority of the United States maintaining shelter in place and safe social distancing measures, our cars have also been practicing social distancing from each other. Over the last few months, the congestion and overall traffic on highways and main roads have been cleared for professional drivers to provide goods and services to our essential businesses.
The Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis published a study showing crashes have been cut in half between Feb. 27 and April 11 compared to the same time last year. The report estimates this is a savings to the State of California of about $1 Billion dollars during this time frame. Additional reports around the country are providing similar statistics. In Indianapolis, car crash reports are down 27%.
This has also had an effect on air quality, gasoline and oil pricing, and personal auto insurance premiums, as discussed in our previous post, How is COVID-19 Impacting My Car Insurance? What is not being discussed is what will happen once everyone is back on the road again. And more importantly, how do we prevent a spike in accidents once we return to the road?
Until Level 5 of vehicle autonomy is reached, the human element in driving will always be a factor. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 400,000 people are injured a year as a result of distracted driving.
Furthermore, a NHTSA study in 2015 shows that “decision error such as driving too fast for conditions, too fast for the curve, false assumption of others’ actions, illegal maneuver and misjudgment of gap or others’ speed accounted for about 33 percent of the crashes” for that year.
Over the next month, drivers will be returning to the road as more businesses reopen. The surge of drivers back on the road will be the equivalent of the first snowstorm, or rain after the dry season, where it seems like everyone on the road is driving for the very first time. Those returning to work will be learning to drive again. Below are some guidelines and suggestions to be aware of when commuting to work begins as the country is re-opened:
In addition to the above suggestions, this may also be a great time to revisit your business’ driver training program. Oswald has an online-based risk management center that can assist with your driver, safety, and HR-related training.
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