There have been reports of drops in traffic during the coronavirus pandemic and as a result, the number of people killed in car accidents had temporarily dropped as well. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that car accident deaths are now about the same as it was at this point in 2019. After a significant drop in deaths during the last two weeks of March, when the city’s stay-at-home order took effect, the Los Angeles Police Department says it is seeing an alarming increase in traffic fatalities on city streets.
Emptier Streets, Higher Speeds
This increase in deaths is linked to a surge of speeding on streets that are emptier than usual, and also a higher number of people who are walking and biking in their neighborhoods. So far in May, 21 people have died in car accidents including three who died in a high-speed crash on Imperial Highway in Willowbrook. In fact, the numbers show that Los Angeles has seen almost as many deaths from traffic accidents as from homicides this year. Through mid-May, 86 people have died in traffic accidents and 89 have died in homicides.
Prior to the stay-at-home order, the city saw a fatal traffic accident about once every 36 hours. After March 19, when the lockdown went into effect, that rate slowed down to once every two and a half days. But, as businesses begin to reopen and traffic begins to pick up, officials say, drivers need to get used to the fact that there are now people on the street. As one official put it every driver has control of a “5,000-pound missile” and should take extra care in watching for pedestrians, bicycles, strollers and carts.
With speeds initially up by as much as 30% on some streets, Los Angeles officials relied on technology to help curb speeding including tinkering with pedestrian walk signals and leaving a large number of the city’s 5,000 traffic lights on nighttime settings. The city is also deactivating pedestrian push buttons at hundreds of crosswalks so people do not have to risk contagion by pushing the button. The slightly longer light cycles also force more drivers to stop.
The Need for Caution
As California begins to get back to work, there is no question that we all need to use a lot more caution on the roadways. There are a number of common-sense measures drivers can take to be safe on the roadways:
- Leave adequate distance between you and the vehicle in front.
- Obey the speed limit and drive at a speed that is safe at any given time.
- Yield the right-away to pedestrians and look out for motorcyclists and bicyclists.
- Do not operate a motor vehicle when you are impaired, distracted, or fatigued.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney to find out how you can seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.