The recent coronavirus outbreak, declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, has had dramatic impacts on every aspect of daily life. In the time of a pandemic, we can all see the changes around us. In this most recent situation, it is visible in everything from the empty business buildings to the complete lack of traffic on the streets. Pandemics create new worlds with drastically different circumstances, and that does not exclude the state of traffic conditions.
Without living through such a circumstance-shifting pandemic, it would be hard to know what a pandemic could really mean for traffic conditions. However, we’ve been able to see and experience for ourselves the changes that have occurred. From less cars rushing down the streets and the resulting reduction in the amount of time people on the road have to spend sitting in traffic to the dramatic implications of the pandemic situation on the safety conditions of our roads, we can see that a pandemic leaves almost nothing the same.
Perhaps the most obvious consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic on the traffic conditions of our cities has been the general reduction in people traveling the roads. Of course, the lack of cars on the street makes perfect sense. With all but essential businesses shut down, travel restricted, and most people working from home, there is simply no reason for most to get in their cars and drive somewhere. As a result, traffic clears up and we’re all left wondering where all the cars have gone.
So, following stay-at-home orders means less cars getting out on the road, but how does this affect traffic for those essential workers that still have places to go? It seems, for those such as truck drivers and medical professionals, that the pandemic has cleared away traffic in a way that has never been seen before. Even in places like Los Angeles and Chicago, the kind of congestion that would cause one to spend hours sitting in traffic has truly disappeared.
This is good news for those that really do need to be on the road because they have important jobs to get done that a pandemic cannot interfere with. With increased traffic speeds, they can now get where they need to be faster than ever. So, how does this affect the safety conditions of road travel?
With less people on the roads, there has been a serious reduction in traffic-related accidents and injuries. Every year, 1.35 million lives are lost as a result of car crashes. Right now, with less accidents as a result of the pandemic keeping people off the streets, we are seeing just how much things could change with proper safety regulations, even if this isn’t the reason behind the reduction at the moment.
The roads currently aren’t necessarily any safer than they are without a pandemic, despite the fact that we’re seeing less accidents. In fact, many may take the reduction in traffic as a license to recklessly increase their driving speed. However, during a pandemic may be one of the worst times to make poor driving safety choices, as more resources are needed in the hospitals for those affected by the pandemic. Even if the road is clear in front of you, speed limits are in place for a reason, and it’s important to adhere to the traffic safety regulations that have already been implemented.
While lives are being saved by the fact that people simply aren’t on the road anymore during this pandemic, it is a good time to evaluate how we can stay safer when the amount of traffic inevitably increases again in the future. Traffic injuries are one of the leading causes of death around the world, so prioritizing safety on the streets couldn’t be more important. As the pandemic sets us up to rethink everything, this could be the wake-up call that’s needed for traffic safety as well.
Reducing traffic congestion, whether under the circumstances of a global pandemic or not, is highly beneficial to increasing safety on the roads. With some relatively small changes in the way that we do things, it’s apparent that we can lower the volume of traffic even into the long-term. At the same time, we may also address many other traffic safety concerns. We now know that decreasing traffic incidents is possible and with behavioral changes and implementation of technologies, many lives may be saved.
Staying Safe Through and Past the Pandemic with Traffic Safety Technologies
ELTEC is always committed to increasing safety on the road and we constantly work to accomplish this through our innovative traffic safety technologies. We are proud to be leading the way to safer streets in the US with our traffic safety solutions. Manufacturing traffic control signs, traffic safety equipment and overall traffic control products for nearly 50 years, ELTEC hopes to make the roads a safer place for everyone, both driver and pedestrian.