The pandemic of 2020 has been a time of staying at home and less driving. But now that the state and country are opening up, people need to be careful to stay safe on the road.

When people do drive, many have been speeding or not paying attention due to the lack of other cars on the road. But this carelessness has also led to more serious crashes.

On June 12, a fatal crash was reported in Gowanda County. One person died and multiple others were injured in the early morning crash. This is just one more in many recent reports of fatal crashes occurring during the pandemic – a time when one would expect less accidents on the roads but what is turning into more severe accident results.

The Buffalo News reported that on some area roads, the lack of traffic during COVID-19 crisis has seen a jump in speeding of 30% during times that would normally be congested traffic at rush hour.

How do your odds change with speeding?

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), speed affects crashes with injuries in several key areas:

Decreased reaction time — Drivers have less time to react when they have to stop or slow down if they are speeding.

Increased chances of fatalities – The chances of having a fatal accident are 20 times greater when someone is driving at approximately 50 miles/per hour rather than slower speed of 30 miles per hour.

Bystander fatality odds – Perhaps more impactful even are the percentages affecting pedestrians and bicyclists when struck by a car.  Survival rates after these crashes are only 50% when drivers were going 45 kph or 27.96 mph, whereas reducing driving speed affected survival rate favorably at 90% of the victims living after being struck by someone going 30 kph or 18.64 mph.

Furthermore, the WHO stated that for every 1kpm faster someone drivers (or .62 mph), drivers increase the chances of having a crash with injuries by 3%. They also increase the odds of having a crash with fatalities by 4 to 5 %.

What can drivers do?

Knowing that even a few miles per hour can dramatically change outcomes of crashes and severity, there are several things people can do to keep everyone safer on the roads.

Be aware of your speed limit. Without other cars on the road, you may not be as aware of how fast you are traveling because there are not other vehicles to keep pace with.

Keep your distance. Allow for more distance between your vehicle and others on the road.

Give yourself enough time. Allow yourself plenty of time when driving from place to place, so you won’t feel the need to speed.

We can all do our part to keep roads safer during the pandemic.