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Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents Could Increase During Coronavirus Shutdown

pedestrian deaths in virginia

COVID-19 has had a ripple effect on every sector of society, leading to strange changes in trends that few anticipated. One good example: changes in car accident statistics, including accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists. If you are using this time to get more outdoor exercise and stay active, know what to expect, how to protect yourself, and why you need to be extra cautious.

Vehicle Crashes May Decrease During This Time

Across the United States, cities are reporting significantly lower levels of traffic. Stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders are in effect in nearly every state, and even among those that do not have official orders, many people are staying home to limit their exposure to coronavirus. More people are working from home, and there are no school drop-offs or pickups to schedule anymore. When you add all these factors together, you get substantially lower levels of road traffic and less risk for accidents.

However, some believe that lower traffic rates don’t cause an equal decrease in accidents. Emptier roads may leave some drivers more space to drive recklessly, putting them and those around them at greater risk. Similarly, distracted driving accidents could tick up during this time as people try to focus on driving while grappling with the weight of coronavirus-related worries.

The Safety of Pedestrians in Virginia

Heading into the COVID-19 situations, pedestrians were already at risk of being injured or killed in accidents in Virginia. From 2015 through 2018, pedestrian deaths increased in the state. The state responded by implementing rigorous safety standards and technology in areas with high accident rates. Early reports indicate that these efforts are working and that pedestrian accidents are decreasing. Activist groups have fought for clearer signaling, more bike lanes, and other necessary changes.

Why Bicyclists and Pedestrians Are at Risk Right Now

So why are pedestrians and bicyclists at greater risk now than in the months leading up to the COVID-19 crisis? To start, there are simply more bicyclists and pedestrians on the roads than there were before. Shelter-in-place orders allow for outdoor exercise, and more people are taking advantage of this opportunity now that there is little else to do. Busier sidewalks and roads naturally increase the risk of accidents.

Additionally, those who are just now starting to walk and stretch their legs on their bikes may not know the rules of the road or understand what it takes to stay safe. This group could be at substantial risk for injuries or fatalities.

To complicate matters further, in some parts of the state, officials are using this time of decreased traffic to get started on important road construction projects. This could cause people to reroute, causing traffic jams at major streets.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

You don’t have to lose sleep about accident rates in Virginia right now. The state’s residents are doing well when it comes to abiding by the stay-at-home order, and this decrease in traffic should make roads somewhat safer for the length of the shutdown.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you can be careless or unaware as you explore your neighborhood on foot or on bike. It is crucial to avoid accidents right now. If you are injured in an accident in normal times, the hospital has the staff, equipment, and technology needed to help you. If you require emergency care right now, you run the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 through the glut of patients filling ERs across the country. Furthermore, some hospitals may not have the staff, protective equipment, or technology to give you the help and care you need. For this reason alone, it’s worth looking twice before you cross the road.

If you are willing to make slight changes to your routines, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe during this time. Try to hit the roads and trails at non-peak hours. Stay off the roads at times when essential workers are filling the streets and heading to their shifts. Try to only travel at times when the streets are well-lit. If you do exercise at night, put reflective strips on your clothes or bicycle to make sure you are visible to drivers and other exercisers.

No matter how careful you are to avoid accidents, they do happen. If you are struck by a vehicle, make sure you seek medical care and get the person’s contact information. Then, reach out to a local personal injury attorney to get the support you need. The team at Pack Law Group is committed to helping victims get the compensation they deserve after they are hurt by someone else’s negligence. Contact us online or call us at 540-586-7225 to discuss your next steps.

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