California Accident & Injury Attorneys
Could COVID-19 Cause More Car Crashes?

Could COVID-19 Cause More Car Crashes?

It sounds ridiculous. If there are fewer people on the road, there should be fewer car crashes, right? Not quite. Fewer people on the road has only encouraged the careless and reckless to break the rules and endanger everyone on the road in the process. It’s not a question of whether COVID-19 is causing more car crashes, but rather how many it’s causing.

By The Numbers

On the week of March 16, the world shut down. Restaurants went delivery only, retail stores closed, and most people started working from home. While there were fewer vehicles on the road, safety organizations were shocked to find that motor vehicle fatalities increased in 11 states (including California) in March 2020 when compared to March 2019.

That’s not an anomaly. While there are far fewer car crashes across the country (10,000 less per month in some states), the rate of car crash fatalities have increased over 2019’s numbers in April and May.

The Main Reason

With fewer cars out, some drivers feel they’re able to break the rules of the road. This has resulted in an increased number of people engaging in careless or even reckless driving including running red lights, ignoring stop signs, not using their turn signals, and speeding.

Speeding is the main cause for the increase in traffic fatalities. In California, the number of tickets issued for people going over 100 MPH has increased by 87% versus last year. Other states have seen these excessive speeding tickets increase by as much as 147%.

Dangers of Excessive Speeding

Speeds over 100 MPH aren’t just breaking the speed limit. Drivers who speed to that degree are far more likely to make a mistake because they don’t have enough time to react to oncoming obstacles, such as a merging vehicle or an animal crossing the road.

Moreover, the amount of damage caused in a car crash is directly proportional to the speed. Think back to high school physics. Force = Mass x Acceleration.

Say you drive a mid-sized sedan (3,500 lbs) and you get in a crash going 75 MPH on the highway.

3500lbs x 75 MPH = 53,228 Newtons of force on impact.

Now let’s see what happens when that same vehicle gets in a crash at 110 MPH.

3500lbs x 110 MPH = 77,907 Newtons of force on impact.

Simply put, a crash at 110 MPH causes 46% more damage than a crash at 75 MPH. Add to this that drivers excessively speeding are more likely to crash because they don’t have time to react and you have a recipe for disaster.

The Cost of Reckless Driving

It’s not okay to speed just because there are fewer people on the road. Some might think they can get away with it because there are fewer police officers on traffic duty. That view is incredibly selfish.

When someone gets in a car crash, they’re not just impacting themselves. They’re injuring their passengers and everyone in the other driver’s vehicle. Then police, ambulance, and towing all need to be dispatched to the scene, increasing the risk of someone getting infected during the ongoing pandemic especially now when we’re up to 50,000 new cases per day.

If anyone is seriously injured, they’ll need to go to the hospital. That means potentially exposing more people. If the injuries are particularly severe, the injured need to spend a few nights at the hospital, contributing to crowding and potentially forcing an at-risk person who tested positive for COVID-19 to find another care center.

Yet all of these interactions and their costs could be avoided if everyone was driving safely and defensively, in spite of the pandemic. There’s no excuse to indulge in this reckless behavior when we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and national state of emergency.

For the sake of those around us, we have to be better.


If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries at the hands of a reckless driver, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Newport Beach accident attorney from Manning Law, APC to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (800) 783-5006.

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