Drop in Car Crashes, Spike in Bicycle Accidents Linked to Coronavirus
Once Americans came to understand how deadly the coronavirus can be and how easily it is passed from person to person, transportation habits changed. Not only did people drastically curtail business and personal travel, but many stopped going to their workplaces. That has led to a reduction in car accidents at the same time that cycling accidents have risen.
Given New York City’s status as the current epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, recent accident data from the city may offer some insight into what other cities around the country might now, or soon, experience:
- Lack of auto traffic — Injuries to automobile drivers, passengers and pedestrians showed double-digit drops as New Yorkers first started changing their behavior to avoid coronavirus. Even before the statewide stay-at-home order went into effect on March 22, individuals and businesses seemed to cut back on unnecessary vehicle travel. This trend only intensified as state and local governments around the nation have installed increasingly tough restrictions on transportation. In fact, the reduction in accidents has resulted in a windfall to auto insurers, some of which are now refunding premiums to policyholders.
- Increased bicycle use — As people’s schedules instantly became more flexible and subway use dropped, bicycle ridership increased during the first week of widespread closures. Unfortunately, this led to a 43 percent increase in New York City bike accidents compared to the same period last year. Subsequently, ridership seemed to return to more normal levels, possibly because most people have switched to working from home or lost their jobs.
- Fears associated with mass transit, taxis and rideshares — At some point, stay-at-home orders will be eased and many people will be returning to their workplaces. However, fears over shared spaces will linger, perhaps forever. People who might have been willing to use public transportation, rideshares and taxis might opt instead to purchase their own car. The presence of more vehicles on the road increases the likelihood of an accident no matter what type of environment you’re in.