Many individuals across the United States are working from home or following shelter-in-place
orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. Because of this, many areas across the country have
experienced reduced overall motor vehicle traffic.
One might think fewer vehicles on roads would result in fewer cases of speeding and reckless
driving. Not so much. Data released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and
police departments across the country suggest that dangerous driving may be increasing in
Details on Dangerous Driving During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Some traffic safety experts speculate that instances of speeding and reckless driving may have
increased during COVID-19 because there are fewer vehicles on roadways.
“Clear roadways could give some drivers the false impression that it is safe to speed, use
phones, or drive recklessly,” said Attorney Charles Boyk of Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC.
“But it is dangerous. Some areas are seeing increases in traffic citations. There has also been
an increase in collisions and fatalities.”
Major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., experienced significant
decreases in traffic volume (from 50 to 70 percent) following the implementation of COVID-19
At the same time, police departments, including the New York City Police Department (NYCPD)
and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), are reporting major increases in speeding and
traffic violations. Police in other states, including Colorado, Utah, and Georgia have reported
people going over 100 miles per hour (mph) on roadways. This includes an Atlanta resident who
was pulled over for driving at 130 mph, double the suggested speed limit.
Implications of Dangerous Driving during COVID-19
GHSA officials have stated that following traffic laws during the coronavirus pandemic is critical
to maintaining public safety. While there may be fewer motor vehicles on roadways during stay-
at-home orders, there still could be potential hazards on roadways which may cause collisions.
This includes the increased frequency of wildlife, pedestrians, and bicyclists on roadways.
Additionally, following traffic laws and maintaining driver safety may reduce the likelihood of an
accident requiring medical attention. Reducing an influx of traffic-related medical cases could
allow hospitals to maintain their focus on treating COVID-19.
Staying Safe on Roadways during COVID-19
There are many actions that drivers could take to help maintain roadway safety during the
coronavirus pandemic. Following speed limits, suggested speeds, and adjusting driving
appropriately to roadway conditions may reduce the likelihood of an accident or collision. Also,
reducing interaction with phones or other devices could help combat distracted driving. Overall,
being alert and aware of other motorists, roadway hazards, and non-vehicle traffic could help
increase roadway safety.