Anyone who has taken a drive in New York lately has undoubtedly noticed that roads that are usually filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic are now eerily empty. The coronavirus pandemic has led to most New Yorkers staying home and off the roads. This seems to be a small silver lining in what is otherwise a terrible tragedy for our City and State. However, in an ironic twist, it appears that the now deserted streets of New York are becoming even more dangerous because an alarming number of drivers have responded to the drop in traffic by speeding and reckless driving.
A recent article in the New York Times points out that even with significantly fewer cars on the roads the number of daily speeding tickets that have been issued nearly doubled from the months prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the article, 24,765 speeding tickets were issued daily by automated speeding cameras by the end of March 2020. That figure is up from 12,672 for the same time period month before.
An increase in speeding cars puts others on our roads at a significantly higher risk for serious personal injuries or even death. This is particularly true for pedestrians and bicyclists who are unfortunate enough to cross the path with a speeding and/or reckless driver. Studies have shown that the odds of death for a pedestrian/bicyclist increase drastically with relatively small increases in the speed of the vehicle. For example, in cases where a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, the odds of death were a mere 5% if the involved car was going just 20 mph or less. An increase of the speed to 30 mph sounds like very little change. However, the odds of death increase dramatically to between 37% and 45%. When the speed is increased to 40 mph, the odds of the pedestrian being killed shoot up to between 83% and 85%.
According to the Times article, city officials have become alarmed by a spate of high-speed crashes, though the overall number of motor vehicle collisions has declined along with traffic. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, is reportedly considering pushing for tougher measures, including raising fines for speeding tickets, which are $50 when issued by automated cameras.
With our emergency rooms overwhelmed by the coronavirus crisis and with ventilators and available medical personnel in short supply in many parts of New York, the chances of people involved in car accidents not receiving adequate medical attention is a serious concern. With the passage of time, more data will become available as to the extent of this problem. However, it is clear that negligent drivers put all of us at higher risk. If you or a loved one finds yourself injured due to the actions or negligence of another driver, please be sure to call Rosenberg & Rodriguez, PLLC for a free consultation.