Since the pandemic, our firm has seen an uptick in car accident cases caused by reckless driving, especially in commercial truck cases. Our anecdotal observation, that drivers are engaging in riskier behavior since the pandemic, is supported by recently published national and local data related to traffic volume and crashes.
Distracted Commercial Truck Drivers
The pandemic caused supply chain issues and a labor shortage. As a result, trucking companies are desperate for drivers. Recently in our cases, we’ve found a number of professional truck drivers texting while driving (some of which is caught on cab facing cameras) and in another recent case, we caught a trucking company who hired a non-English speaking driver who was unable to read and follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). FMCSR clearly prohibits this hiring practice. Section 391.11(b)(2) requires that all drivers must be able to “read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records.” In each of these cases, our clients were seriously injured and face lifelong damage as a result.
The trend across the nation is that there are fewer cars on the roads since the March 2020 Covid-19 government mandated lockdown. The reason for this is obvious – during the lockdown period between March 23, 2020 to May 11, 2020, many people were unable to work and therefore drove less frequently. During this six-week lockdown, traffic volume was down 44% and severe / fatal traffic crashes were down 34%.
Since the lockdown ended and the country opened-up, work schedules have become more flexible, and drivers are getting back on the roads, but logging fewer miles. Despite the lower traffic volume, fatalities increased across the nation by 6.8%.
Ohio and Kentucky follow the national trend
Ohio and Kentucky are following the national average. Both states are experiencing an uptick in severe and fatal car crashes. For example, Ohio saw the most traffic-related fatalities in 2021 than any year since 2002. Kentucky was no different, seeing more aggressive and reckless driving since the pandemic, including texting and driving, high speed, purposefully running a red light, and impaired driving (drugs and alcohol).