Have Car Accidents Decreased During the COVID-19 Crisis?

car accident

The COVID-19 crisis has made American roads significantly less busy than they typically are. As fewer people drive to work—either because they’re working from home or lost their job—many people hoped that car accidents might be less severe. Now, as much of the nation has been staying home to fight the virus, are car accidents happening less? It depends on who you talk to.

What Studies Have Shown About COVID-19 Car Accidents

According to information released by UC Davis, traffic accidents and crash-related injuries and deaths were halved during the first three weeks of California’s shelter-in-place order. The policy began on March 20 and the university estimates that the decrease saved the state about $40 million each day. In other words, the state saved $1 billion in three weeks by having to respond to fewer car accidents.

“The reduction in traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities is a bit of a silver lining for people who are staying at home and who are impacted by the pandemic,” said UC Davis Road Ecology Center director and project lead author Fraser Shilling.

The department found that the state’s reduction in accidents was paired with up to a 55 percent reduction in traffic and a 40-50 percent decrease in serious injuries for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

While Accidents Are Less Frequent, Drivers Are Increasingly Reckless

In other areas, drivers haven’t been as fortunate. The Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has said that, as roads emptied during the crisis, those who are on the roads are driving faster and more reckless than ever. In cities like Los Angeles, drivers have increased their speed by as much as 30% on some roads. In New York City, automated speed cameras issued nearly double the number of tickets than the average from the month before.

While many states are enjoying a lower crash rate, they’re having more serious crashes when one does happen. Fatalities caused by car accidents increased in Massachusetts and Minnesota, with the latter seeing deadly accidents more than double typical rates. Other states like Nevada and Rhode Island have seen an increase in pedestrian accidents.

"While COVID-19 is clearly our national priority, our traffic safety laws cannot be ignored," GHSA executive director Jonathan Adkins commented. "Law enforcement officials have the same mission as health care providers—to save lives."

Fewer Claims Means Insurers Are Holding a Lot of Cash Right Now

With fewer car accidents, insurance companies are paying a record low number of claims, making insurers one of the few companies doing well during the epidemic. In China, reduced claims led to higher stock prices for car insurance companies. At home, reduced claims have actually led to insurers issuing refunds or premium discounts.

Insurers issuing discounts include the following companies:

  • Allstate
  • Farmers
  • Liberty
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA

Many insurers have agreed not to cancel car insurance due to non-payment. In California, auto insurers were ordered by the insurance commissioner to give premiums back to clients for March and April and to give a 90-day grace period on any policy with unpaid premiums.

Voluntary insurance refunds provide people with much-needed relief, but they also help prevent people from canceling their policies outright, given that very few people are even using their cars right now. While few people are driving, it is wiser to take a discount than to cancel—you may still need your car for vital errands, and insurance provides theft coverage as well as collision coverage.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident during the coronavirus epidemic, our Pennsylvania car accident firm is still hard at work advocating for the injured. We’ve won tens of millions in results since 1922—even with the courts closed, we’re setting our clients up for success and compensation. Learn what we can do for you in a free case consultation!

Call (888) 498-3023 for a free and confidential consultation today!

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