Hazards of an Empty Road


Our streets and highways look at lot different than they did a short while ago. While the lack of congestion may make the roads feel safer, empty streets are being shown to encourage increased speeds and distracted driving.

According to the California Highway Patrol, less traffic may mean fewer fender benders; however, the crashes that do happen become more severe, often requiring an ambulance and trip to the hospital. There is never a good time to end up in the hospital, but this is magnified to a greater degree given the current COVID-19 situation.

The LA Times reported that since COVID-related stay-at-home executive orders have gone into effect, there have been more rollover incidents, single-car collisions and more ambulance responses due to the higher volume of speeders on the empty roads.

New York City’s speed cameras have been issuing roughly the same number of tickets since the Coronavirus crisis began, despite a 51% plunge in cars on the road.

According to a AAA spokesperson, speed is the biggest determinant of serious injury and fatalities, especially for those who are most vulnerable like pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as first responders, tow truck drivers, and construction and utility workers who are often on the shoulders of our roads. Motorist reaction time – which is about 1 second – doesn’t speed up as the vehicle goes faster.

Adding to the challenge for drivers, pedestrians on crowded sidewalks are preoccupied with social distancing and stepping into the roadway to avoid close contact with other pedestrians. Social distancing cyclists also occupy more of the road.
In order to remain vigilant while driving during the pandemic, your fleet drivers should be aware of possible hazards and be prepared to take the best actions to avoid them.
Here just a few tips:

  1. Pedestrians – Watch out for people jaywalking or crossing the street during a traffic light change, walking on the shoulder, pushing or working on a vehicle, or involved in a previous crash.
  2. Bicyclists – Give bicyclists plenty of room, and keep an eye out for them, especially near public parks and residential neighborhoods.
  3. Residential Areas – Pedestrians, cyclists, and young children are more frequent sights along residential streets. Be on high alert while driving through these areas, especially if the weather is nice.
  4. Other Motorists – While you will see fewer cars on the road, you may encounter speeding or distracted drivers as mentioned above.
  5. Be Prepared – While remaining alert and safe behind the wheel will be your best protection while driving on an empty road, be sure to carry a mask and gloves in your car, and follow CEI’s COVID-19 Accident Scene Protocol in the event of a collision.

CEI is fully operational and able to assist with keeping your drivers who are on the road safe, as well as help keep grounded fleet drivers’ skills sharp. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your fleet during COVID-19 and beyond.

Click here to visit CEI COVID-19 Resource Center

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