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Returning to the Roads After COVID-19

People have been sheltered in place for months and they’re ready to get back out into the world. However, according to news reports, they aren’t practicing safety while driving on the roads. In fact, many drivers are pulling dangerous moves, causing accidents and fatalities all across the country.

An Uptick in Accidents and Tickets

According to USAA, while there was a 40% to 50% decrease in accident claims during the initial round of stay-at-home orders, by the end of April, accident claims were up! National Safety Council data shows that the fatality rates per miles driven went up by 14% nationally in March, compared to that same time frame in 2019.

Though people are still spending more time at home, and many types of businesses are closed, that doesn’t mean the roads are less dangerous. In fact, in California, between March 19 and April 19, there was an 87% increase in tickets given to drivers going more than 100 mph.

According to one study that looked at driving trends across the U.S., even though traffic was down 80%, the number of speeding tickets jumped by 20%. “With fewer cars on the roads, some motorists are driving at reckless speeds, even though speeding doesn’t necessarily result in saving time on the road,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs.

The Danger of Being on the Roads

Even though it seems like it would be safer to drive with less people on the road, the opposite may be true. Since the roads are emptier, people are pulling riskier moves. They are taking advantage of the fact that there is no traffic and driving recklessly.

If you’re a bicyclist or pedestrian, you have to exercise caution as well. There are more cyclists out there because people are nervous about public transportation.  They can’t get around because public transportation is limited and they’re looking to get some fresh air in a safe way after being cooped up for months with their gyms closed. People are walking and running for the same reasons.

Other ways that people are getting around right now may include skateboarding and using motorized scooters, which will put them at risk if they are using these devices on the streets.

Safety Tips While on the Road During COVID-19

To protect yourself and others, you need to be extra careful nowadays when you get back on the road.

When you’re driving, make sure you follow the posted speed limit signs, even if there is no traffic around. Make full stops at stop signs and stop lights, and always use turn signals. Even if the road is empty, don’t get out of your car to change a tire or fix your vehicle on the side of the road or highway if you don’t have to.

Don’t talk on a cell phone because hands-free devices are still distracting. There are still truck drivers on the road, and they may be speeding since the roads are more desolate. Don’t try to pass them or cut them off, because they have a hard time seeing you.

If you are walking or running, stick to the sidewalks or shoulders and don’t blast music in your headphones. You need to be alert and able to hear what’s going on around you. The same rule applies if you’re biking, skateboarding or if you’re on a motorized scooter.

If you’re biking or using a motorized scooter, always stick to the available bike lanes and wear a helmet. Use your hands to indicate planned turning, and don’t attempt to cut off any drivers.

It doesn’t matter if you are the only one on the road. You never know when someone may unexpectedly come out of nowhere. When the roads become more congested, you will want to ensure that you have those good habits in place. If you get into the practice of driving dangerously, that habit could stick with you and end up endangering your life and the lives of others.

What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident

If you were driving during the COVID-19 emergency (or at any other time) and got into a car accident – or you were hit by a driver while walking, biking or on a scooter or skateboard – then you need to take action to ensure you will be able to pay for any injuries and damages, and recover these damages.

When you’ve been in a car accident of any kind, these are the steps you need to take.

First, get the contact and insurance information from the driver who hit you. Also, collect contact information from any witnesses who were around and ask what they saw. They may be able to tell you if the other driver was speeding or driving dangerously in the lead up to the accident. Since COVID-19 is very contagious, try to do this all with appropriate social distancing, and wear a mask if you don’t have any medical issues that would prevent you from doing so.

While you’re still at the accident, take photos of the scene, noting any damage to your vehicle and any other cars. You should make sure a police report is being made and go to the hospital or a doctor to get a full check-up, including an X-ray examination, if warranted, in case there is internal damage you don’t know about.   The doctors may suggest a more informative scan as well.

Tell the doctor about any pain you’re experiencing and make sure there is a medical record that you went. Even though it may seem scary to go to the hospital right now, it’s critical that you get checked out as soon as possible after your accident. Many times people don’t realize how seriously injured they really are.

Let your insurance provider know about the accident as well. The other driver’s insurance company or your insurance company may offer you some money, but it’s likely going to be a low-ball offer and not cover all of your losses and damages to which you are entitled.

Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

Instead of taking the offering from your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance, both of which have their own financial interests as their primary concern, you should reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer to see if you have a good case. Your lawyer will work on paying for your medical expenses and help you find the care you need during this tough time. You’ll be on the road to recovery and won’t have to worry about the case, since you know it is in good hands.

All you have to do is tell your lawyer what happened, provide them with any information, photos, and any documents or records you have and visit the doctor and follow their advice to get better. Your lawyer will take care of the rest.

When you get your settlement, you’ll pay the lawyer a commission. That means there is no expense or out-of-pocket to you – which is how it should be: You need to focus on healing right now and not stress out about other worries.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, then call the personal injury attorneys at Heiting & Irwin at 951-682-6400, or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible. We can get you the compensation you deserve in your car accident personal injury case.

Richard Irwin

Mr. Irwin is a recognized specialist in Workers’ Compensation law. He has been certified as a specialist by the State Bar of California since 1995. He limits his practice to handling only workers’ compensation cases. View Attorney Richard Irwin's Attorney Bio Here.

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