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Road Trip Safety Tips During Coronavirus Outbreak

Colburn Law


Road Trip Safety Tips

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel has become a risky activity. Common transportation options, such as airplanes and public transit, places you in close proximity to crowds of strangers and may increase your chances of exposure.

To reduce their COVID-19 risk, many Washington residents are choosing to take road trips in the safety of their own vehicles. However, traveling to new locations can still expose you and others to the virus—and according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), you may also be at a higher risk of a car accident.

Why Are Accidents Increasing During the Pandemic?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), total traffic volume decreased by more than 16% during the first six months of 2020. This apparent lack of traffic may provide drivers with a false sense of confidence, increasing the risk of speeding and reckless driving.

An April 2020 article provides the following GHSA statistics on pandemic-era collisions.

  • On some streets in Los Angeles, drivers were traveling as much as 30% faster than usual.
  • New York City automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets on March 27th alone, nearly double the daily number from February 2020.
  • In Minnesota, car crashes and accident fatalities have more than doubled in comparison to previous years. Half of these fatalities were due to reckless driving and speeding.

In December 2020, the GHSA released a press release confirming that the non-profit is still seeing higher rates of speeding and reckless driving during the pandemic. The organization also notes that many municipalities limited traffic stops to reduce COVID transmission to law enforcement, which may have also provided more opportunities for drivers to engage in reckless driving.

Safe Driving Tips for Washington Travelers

COVID-19 spreads mostly through respiratory droplets released when you cough, talk, or sneeze. Proper sanitation, physical distancing, and wearing a mask can help reduce the risk of transmission.

  • Always wear a mask when indoors or in outdoor settings where you cannot maintain a six-foot distance from other people. Bring multiple masks to rotate between.
  • Plan your route carefully to avoid unexpected closures, required quarantine periods or proof of negative test results, or travel delays.
  • Pack products to keep your hands and surfaces clean. Bring hand sanitizer, wet wipes, disposable gloves, tissues, and plastic bags.
  • At rest stops, remain especially vigilant. Avoid commonly touched surfaces and carefully sanitize your hands and belongings before returning to your vehicle.
  • Pack your own water and snacks to avoid interactions with others on the road.

In addition to pandemic safety, it is important to drive safely, follow all traffic laws, and remain vigilant of potential hazards. The following tips can help keep you and your family safe.

  • Avoid drowsy driving by getting a good night’s sleep.
  • If you are too tired to drive, do not drive. Take a nap in a safe place or alternate shifts with another driver.
  • Keep distractions away while driving, such as cell phones, the radio, or manual GPS systems. Keep your eyes, mind, and hands-on the act of driving.
  • Always obey the speed limit, even if you are the only driver on the road.

While you may follow the law and remain vigilant during your trip, accidents can still occur. If you suffer injuries due to someone else’s actions, a Seattle car accident attorney can explain your legal options and help you file an insurance claim or lawsuit. After your accident, contact your lawyer for assistance.

Have you or a family member been personally impacted by Covid-19? Apply for our scholarship here!