Michigan roads may be a little quieter and less heavily traveled because people are staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean highways are any safer. The coronavirus is taking lives, and not all because of the disease itself. More people are leaving their homes on foot instead of by vehicle, which means an increase in pedestrians, and a greater likelihood of pedestrian accidents and fatalities.
Why There Are More Pedestrians During Coronavirus
Traffic volume may have decreased dramatically during the pandemic, but it has increased pedestrian traffic. Walking has become a new national pastime.
In neighborhoods, on sidewalks, on roads, on trails and paths, individuals, families, and couples are out and about en masse, walking in the same places that vehicles go, and everyone has their own reasons why.
- Diversion: People are living in bubbles, but they need to get out of their homes and do something different. Instead of driving somewhere and risking exposure to COVID-19, they walk instead.
- Exercise: Without access to gyms, people are getting their cardio through power walking and running.
- Mental health: With a lack of places to go to get away from life, from the norm, from the family, people are turning to outdoor recreation to keep their minds clear and their moods up, and that includes walking.
- Transportation: Some people don’t have cars or prefer not to drive, and they also want to avoid the public transit they may have once relied upon. They’re walking to their jobs or errands instead.
- Weather: It’s summertime. No better thing to do than go outside, get some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. Many people are walking in unsafe places and putting themselves at risk of being hit by a motorist.
Dangerous Driving Has Increased
In March, the National Safety Council reported that people killed in car accidents jumped up 14 percent per miles driven compared to this time last year. Distracted driving continues to be a growing problem, with motorists paying more attention to their smartphones than their driving.
And now, open lanes of traffic, caused by the pandemic, seem to be an invitation to some to drive recklessly. Though there are fewer motorists on the road, those who are traveling by vehicle are not all following the laws. Speed limits are being broken and drivers are going faster. Combine these bad habits with an increase in pedestrians and you have a recipe for disaster.
Defensive driving is necessary to protect yourself against dangerous drivers. Defensive walking is essential too to protect you from coming to harm because of an unsafe motorist. First responders, law enforcement, and healthcare workers are focused on coronavirus patients – they should not have to treat people involved in preventable car crashes.
Honoring a safe environment for walkers and bikers creates a respectful culture that allows everyone to get around the way they prefer – and do so safely – whether we’re living through a pandemic or not.
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident or car crash in Michigan, contact personal injury lawyer David C. Femminineo at Femminineo Attorneys in Macomb County.