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The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly and drastically changed many aspects of life for Austin residents. Among these changes and one of the easiest to observe — if you happened to have left your home recently — is the decrease in traffic. Travis County stay-at-home orders mean more people are working from home and avoiding unnecessary errands, but does that mean there are fewer car accidents and resulting injuries?
The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no, and we likely won’t know definitive answers until the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. Here, we’ll examine both the positive and negative impacts that stay-at-home orders might have on the safety of our roads and discuss what your next steps should be if you were injured in a commercial vehicle accident.
What Do the Stay-at-Home Orders Mean for Traffic Accidents?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the stay-at-home order has reduced Austin traffic by half, the biggest decline of all major Texas cities. The reduced number of vehicles on the roads inevitably means fewer collisions. However, drivers are more likely to speed and drive recklessly now that the roads are empty, which could mean more injuries and fatalities per accident. There are also plenty of vulnerable pedestrians still out and about as people seek to escape their homes and get some fresh air.
Perhaps most importantly, delivery drivers are out in record numbers, conveying groceries, takeout orders, alcohol, and medical equipment. Many of these drivers are under pressure from their employers and customers to bring to people the goods that they can no longer easily obtain for themselves.
Even before the pandemic, delivery drivers were driving shifts of up to 14 hours with minimal breaks, which is why fatigue has been one of the consistent leading causes of commercial vehicle accidents. Now, these drivers’ services are needed more than ever — and yet there are fewer open places to stop and grab a bite to eat, stretch their legs, take a shower, and rest. Speeding is another leading cause of truck accidents, and empty roads and tight schedules will certainly not improve reckless driving behavior. And when you consider the fact that unemployment is currently a very real threat for a staggering number of Americans, it is easy to understand the pressure truck drivers feel to perform their jobs efficiently, even at a cost to safety.
We hope that Austin is currently taking and will take extra precautions to discourage speeding on emptier roads. But for those who have already been injured in a delivery truck accident, the most urgent concern is knowing how to proceed with a personal injury claim.
How an Austin Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help with Your Case
If you have been injured in a collision involving a commercial vehicle, you may be entitled to financial recovery that covers your medical expenses, lost earnings, and other losses, both economic and non-economic. Our expert accident lawyers in Austin, Texas, have decades of experience navigating commercial vehicle accidents. We will investigate the circumstances of your crash, negotiate with other parties on your behalf, hold the at-fault party accountable, and fight for the compensation you deserve.