Traffic along California roadways decreased significantly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, since the public has begun going back to their normal routines, traffic volume has picked back up to pre-pandemic levels.
In March 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a State of Emergency in California in addition to a Stay-at-Home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines. The Riverside County Transportation Commission reported 307,563 vehicles per week on the 91 Express Lanes in Riverside County as of February 29, 2020. Following government guidance, the weekly number of vehicles decreased to 64,297 vehicles as of April 11, 2020.
Since then, traffic volume has increased steadily because of new express lanes and the return to in-person operations. On June 15, 2021, the state of California lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions, resulting in increased travel during the summer. The Riverside County Transportation Commission reported 348,512 vehicle transactions during the week of June 26, 2021. During the week of October 16, 2021, the commission reported 345,478 vehicles per week on the 91 toll lanes in Riverside County. However, the rise in traffic volume poses a significant risk to California drivers, increasing the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents.
Despite reduced traffic on California roads, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2020 projections displayed a significant increase in traffic fatalities across the United States, with an estimated 38,680 fatalities resulting from motor vehicle crashes. Recent estimates report that this trend has continued in 2021. This research also implies that driving behaviors changed significantly over the pandemic, suggesting that motorists engaged in more risky behavior, such as speeding and driving under the influence.
As the pandemic continues and traffic behavior changes, the likelihood of traffic accidents rises. Heavier traffic patterns are linked to distracted driving and more aggressive driving behaviors as well as a higher likelihood of impaired drivers on the roads.
Congested California traffic can be overwhelming, especially as more people return to the road and exhibit aggressive behaviors. It is important that drivers and pedestrians understand these changing traffic patterns and refrain from engaging in risky behaviors that might lead to a crash. If you or a loved one has experienced a car accident, contact our team today for experienced and qualified legal representation.
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