Even though we are not currently in a “lock down” environment, there is no doubt that there are fewer cars on the road because of COVID-19, with many people limiting their driving and working from home.
And while it appears that Florida has seen a reduction in car crashes since March or this year, there are other alarming statistics that are related to the world-wide pandemic.
Some states are reporting a decline in traffic crashes overall, but a sharp increase in the number of severe or serious crashes. Still other states report that while there may be fewer cars on the road, law enforcement agencies are issuing many more tickets for things like speeding – actually, extreme speeding, with drivers cited for driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit – and reckless driving.
The logical assumption is that some people think that since there are fewer cars on the road, they can drive as fast as they would like. Here are some examples:
- New York City: 24,765 speeding tickets issued on March 27th, nearly twice the number of daily tickets a month earlier.
- Minnesota: Car crashes and related fatalities more than doubled over the same time period last year, and half of the fatalities were caused by speeding or negligent driving.
- Los Angeles: Drivers are driving as much as 30% faster on certain streets, which has caused the city to change the timing of stoplights and pedestrian crosswalk warning lights.
Is Being Involved in a Crash Different in Today's World?
In today's environment, many people wonder if there is anything that should be done differently if they're involved in a traffic crash. With law enforcement resources stretched to the limits in some communities across the country, some jurisdictions are limiting what type of calls they will dispatch officers for.
If you were involved in what you feel is a minor accident – what some may call a “fender bender” – you may be tempted to not call the police. But people may not realize that there are certain factors that dictate you must call law enforcement and report your crash, according to Florida law. State statutes say you need to report your crash if:
- There was a minimum of $500.00 in property damage to either vehicle, or both vehicles accumulatively.
- There were any injuries, even if someone involved reports they “feel pain or discomfort.”
- One of the vehicles involved was a commercial vehicle, like a delivery van or dump truck.
- One of the drivers involved appears to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
But perhaps the most important reason to call the police after a crash is that it will create a written record of the event. Even in minor crashes, you'd be surprised how critical it might be in the future to have a written record of what happened. Of course, if the crash is severe, it is imperative to make sure there is a police report filed. This is crucial for establishing liability for the crash, and for moving forward with some type of injury claim against the other driver and their insurance company.
The Goldberg Noone Abraham personal injury law firm has always advised that anyone involved in a crash do certain key things immediately following, like try to take photos of the crash scene, if you're physically able to do so. Get images of all vehicles involved, and their license plates, if possible. After contacting the police, you should also try to find out if there were any witnesses to the crash, and get their contact information, if possible. They may be able to provide a written or recorded statement about what happened, and who was at fault.
But the main thing you need to do following a crash is seek medical evaluation. Even if you feel fine and don't think the crash impact was enough to call for a trip to the doctor, you can never be 100% certain. In many cases, you may not begin to feel any soreness, discomfort or pain until a couple days after the crash. And remember, you only have 14 days after a crash to see a medical provider in order to take advantage of your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance coverage's $10,000 in benefits. This is designed to cover your initial medical care and assessment.
The takeaway here is that even though there may be fewer cars on the road these days, data shows an increase in severe crashes, and also in people making poor driving decisions like speeding and reckless driving. It is always better to err on the side of caution and get a police report, just in case you'll need to rely on it later.
And speaking of caution, be sure to use proper social distancing when interacting with the other involved parties at a crash scene, and wash your hands if you've exchanged physical property like an insurance card with anyone else, signed a crash report and held the officers report book or pen, or other similar circumstances.
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association