Many Americans have been sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Busy city streets became eerily quiet, and most of us got used to less traffic when we did venture out. As the country readies itself to reopen, there’ll be a surge of traffic as people go back to work and resume normal activities.
Getting back on the road after lockdown coincides with the start of the 100 deadliest driving days. With many having been off the road for weeks or acquiring new dangerous driving behaviors like speeding on empty roads, the 100 days can become even more deadly.
Driving Dangers During This Year’s 100 Deadliest Days
The months between June and August — from Memorial Day to Labor Day — are known as the 100 deadliest days for driving. Typically, deadly crashes involving a teen driver increase by 14% during this period. Getting back on the road amid the COVID-19 crisis may bring some additional dangers. Be mindful of the following:
Reckless driving has become a serious problem during the COVID-19 lockdown. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, sparse traffic on roads has led to an increase in speeding.
In Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, and Utah, speeds of over 100 mph have been clocked on highways. In New York, empty streets have attracted drag racers, and automated speeding tickets have almost doubled.
You can’t control what other drivers do. What you can do is be alert, stick to the speed limit, and maintain a safe following distance on highways.
Driving Again After the Lockdown Hiatus
Apart from a few trips to the store or pharmacy, driving is something you probably haven’t done much of in the last two months. While you certainly haven’t forgotten how to drive, lockdown fatigue may have reduced your concentration. Be aware of this and avoid any distractions while driving.
Anxiety levels have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many who struggle with anxiety fear falling ill and are nervous when leaving their home. Anxiety can affect one’s driving ability and lead to critical driving errors. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, practicing deep breathing exercises before you drive can help calm you.
Stay Safe Amid COVID-19
These are unusual times, and drivers are facing two dangers: the 100 deadliest days and the risk of contracting coronavirus. Here are a few steps to protect yourself and stay safe.
Teen Drivers Need to Be Extra Cautious
Teens are most at risk during the 100 deadliest days. Fatal car crashes involving teens increase by 26% during the summer months. After weeks at home, teens may throw caution to the wind as they revel in the freedom of the open road again.
As lockdown restrictions ease, teen parties will increase. Avoid drinking and driving, and be extra cautious on the road at night. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), 36% of all car crash fatalities involving teen drivers occur between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Prepare Your Car for Summer
Unless you are an essential services worker, your car probably hasn’t been in regular use since winter. As we shift into summer, it’s a good idea to do some vehicle maintenance. Test the battery, top up with coolant, and check the AC. Taking your car for a full tune-up can identify problems that can lead to a breakdown or, worse, a crash.
Continue to Protect Your Health
Life will slowly be returning to normal, but that doesn’t mean the crisis is over. While no one can accurately predict how long this virus will last, pandemics typically last 12-36 months. As you get back on the roads, continue to safeguard yourself with good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and disinfecting your car.
Most of us are itching to resume our normal lives. Remember, you are doing so when the roads are most dangerous. Drive safely, especially over Memorial Day weekend, which is one of the deadliest weekends of the year for road users.