The COVID-19 pandemic triggered quarantines and lockdowns that kept millions of people home and off the streets. 

But according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some folks took a cue from the pandemic restrictions to hit the road in their vehicles and ignore basic rules while driving. The consequences have been tragic. 

“NHTSA’s research suggests that throughout the national public health emergency and associated lockdowns, driving patterns and behaviors changed significantly and that drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” reads “Traffic data indicates that average speeds increased throughout the year, and examples of extreme speeds became more common, while the evidence also shows that fewer people involved in crashes used their seat belts.

Preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration shows vehicle miles traveled in 2020 decreased by roughly 430 billion miles or about 13.2 percent. 

But according to the NHTSA:

  • Early 2020 estimates reveal that an estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. That’s the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007, and it represents an increase of 7 percent over the 36,096 fatalities in 2019. 
  • The fatality rate for 2020 was 1.37 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from 1.11 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2019. An analysis by the NHTSA identified impaired driving, speeding, and failure to wear a seat belt as the main causes of these fatalities.

So if things were this dangerous in 2020, when many of us remained at home because of the pandemic, just think how bad the roads could be right now, as society continues to re-open at a rapid pace. 

So what’s a law-abiding citizen/motorist to do with all this increased traffic, which by default can lead to an increase in accidents? Well, the first thing to do is keep handy the phone number for the law firm of Phillips & Millman—845-947-1100. Whichever end of the accident you end up on, Phillips & Millman will help you navigate your way out of the fallout. And always, always, always, do what you can to make your driving experience a safe one. 

But in these uncertain times and with these uncertain driving conditions thrust upon us all, it’s important to keep in mind things large and small that can cause accidents. 

These include distracted driving, which quite simply is not focusing on driving while you’re driving, but rather checking your phone or sending a text. 

According to Loss Prevention Magazine, the company Zendrive, which collects smartphone data and works to predict driver behavior, reported that drivers were on their phone in 57 percent of crashes nationwide in 2020. Also, drivers checked their phones 17 percent more often than before the pandemic.

According to the CDC, roughly eight people each day in the U.S. are killed in crashes that involve a distracted driver. In 2018, nearly 3,000 people were killed and approximately 400,000 injured in crashes that involved a distracted driver. About one in five of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver were not in vehicles. They were walking, riding bikes, or otherwise outside of a vehicle.

Car accidents can also be caused by driver inattention; fatigue; drowsiness; and as mentioned above, alcohol and drug impairment; and speeding. 

But we all know accidents happen. So what’s to do in the aftermath? 

One thing that can be done in the age of mobile phones with cameras is to shoot video and still photographs of your vehicle, the roadway, the other car, and any traffic controls like stop signs, lane markings, and traffic lights. 

According to

“Backing up witness testimony and supporting your insurance claim are just a few reasons why you should always take pictures after a car accident. Taking pictures at the scene of an accident is sometimes the only way to document what happened, especially in instances of hit-and-run...It is a good idea to keep a camera in your car...Taking pictures and locating witnesses who took their own pictures can help you galvanize the case in your favor if it should end up on a court docket. Keep in mind that the third-party pictures taken by witnesses could be especially helpful as they provide an unbiased account from a random perspective.”

And speaking of cameras, don’t forget security and surveillance cameras that may be positioned in the vicinity of your accident.

“Look around for public and private cameras,” reads “Intersections commonly have cameras which record vehicles running traffic lights, gas stations and convenience stores have cameras to provide safety for the store and its customers. Cameras are everywhere, and the more you can find which might have recorded the accident in progress, the better your position will be when the evidence is presented to a judge or jury.”

Above all, stay safe out there. Keep calm and keep your cool if you are in a motor vehicle accident. Try your hardest to keep a bad situation from getting worse.