How COVID-19 has Impacted Car Accident Rates

In reply to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states and cities across the United States enforced a stay-at-home and shelter in place orders, requiring the 270 million citizens of America to self-quarantine except for the incidents of emergency or necessary activities. This virus has brought the American normal way of life to a standstill. With stay-at-home orders still in place, there are fewer people on the roads. 

A reduction in traffic accidents was expected as people are limiting their travel to only necessary activities. Prior to the self-quarantine order, research estimated that there were approximately 1,128 motor vehicle crashes per day between March 21 and April 11, across the United States according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA). 

With the self-isolation order in place, there were only 450 motor vehicle crashes per day in the same time frame. This is an estimated 40% drop in injury incidents.

Research cites that traffic volumes had decreased by 60% on highways, further explaining the decrease in motor vehicle accidents. But what will happen when we begin our regular day-to day-activities? 

Before Coronavirus 

Motor vehicle accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental deaths and injuries in the United States. Road crashes are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people aged 1-54.  

A statistical projection of traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2019 shows that an estimated 8,110 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Preliminary estimates from the NHTSA analyzed 36,120 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2019, which is actually down 1.2 percent from 2018 with 36,560 deaths, even though vehicle miles traveled increased by 0.9%.

The coronavirus has cut the number of motor vehicle crashes due to less populated roads and streets. American motorists are putting half as many miles on their cars’ odometers as they usually would in 2020. 

 Crashes are down, including those caused by drunk driving, but what happens once life gets back to normal? 

In the beginning of COVID-19; when the virus was new and everyone was in the stay-at-home order, drinking rates increased dramatically. A study by the American Addiction Centers, AAC 

had found that drinking was directly related to the anxiety and fear surrounding COVID-19. 

Thirty-five percent of people said they are drinking in more volume than they had before the pandemic. However, the alcohol consumption of Americans before the coronavirus pandemic was already problematic. 

In 2014, alcohol played a role in 31 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities. An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually. This, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.  Unfortunately, more people seem to be turning to alcohol to cope with the anxiety and stress from the virus and subsequent quarantine.

Alcohol beverage sales increased by 55 percent in late March this year. However, abusing alcohol consumption can severely weaken your immune system. People who are drinking every day, heavily during these times can have impaired immune systems, which can have the potential to increase the risk of contracting coronavirus. In these times our bodies are needing to function at the highest levels to fight off the symptoms of the virus.

Self-isolation has led to adults drinking more because, obviously, there is more time to kill. There is no need to worry about commuting to work. There is more of a temptation to have a drink while being restricted to their homes for long durations. 

About one-third of people in the United States reported they drink while working from home during the COVID-19 lock-down, according to officials at American Addiction Centers.

As for the younger generation, young drivers tended to rely on services such as Uber or Lyft to get home without harm, but this now changed due to the pandemic. Limited face-to-face interaction will cause a decrease in use with some people using these services. 

Drunk driving rates are down, but they are estimated to spike again as the stay at home restrictions continue to lift. 

So, what happens if there is a car accident? 

Coronavirus has drastically cut car accidents, but they still happen. Of the 6,374,000 police-reported accidents estimated by the NHTSA, 28 percent of them resulted in injuries. 

People often brush off the small injuries associated with a car accident, but this can be a costly mistake! Not just financially but to your overall well-being. Chiropractic evaluation and treatment given right away can help the body heal faster and prevent further injuries. 

Receiving treatment for major injuries from the nearest Emergency Room at the Hospital is of course, but a follow-up with your local Chiropractor can help dramatically to reduce pain.

Chiropractic Help: What Does it Do?

While traditional medicine generally relies on pain medication to relieve the patient’s pain, chiropractic treatment addresses the underlying symptoms of the patient. 

Many patients experience an increase in pain within the first week after suffering from an accident. There are obvious injuries that happen after a motor vehicle crash such as broken bones, bruising and scratching. But many are “invisible”. 

Injuries to the spine and joints can be addressed by a chiropractor who can detect these injuries.  The chiropractor can then help the patient make a more improved and faster recovery.  

Whiplash can happen in every car accident; however, the symptoms might not occur right away

Whiplash is caused by the abrupt movement of the cervical spine in the forward or backward motion of a rear-impacted motor accident. Chiropractic adjustments can bring alignment back to the spine while also relieving pressure on the muscles and nerves surrounding the injury. 

COVID’s Impact

COVID-19 has caused a massive shakeup in everyone’s day-to-day lives. This pandemic has caused fear and anxiety for every American. As the stay-at-home order begins to lift, it is expected that car accident rates begin to increase once again.  Being in a car accident is a traumatic experience altogether. Whether the accident was a “fender bender” or an extensive crash, don’t wait to deal with the pain. 

Author: Brandon Park