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Driving During the Time of COVID-19

With restrictions placed in all fifty states (though some are already lifted and some are lifting soon), there are fewer cars on the road than there have been in at least the past fifty years. Does this mean that truckers, an essential part of America’s economy, are getting the room to breathe? The answer to this is much more complicated than a simple yes or no. Lytx, a fleet telematics provider, has released its statistics since the beginning of March when pandemic hysteria started spiraling out of control. This is what the data found.

Animal Collisions Are Up

One of the largest negative effects of quarantine is that wildlife is losing its acclimation to avoiding highways. Since shelter-in-place guidelines were established nationwide, animal strikes have risen 64%. Most of them occur between 3 AM and 7 AM when it is too dark to see animals that are just waking up, but that does not mean avoiding those times ensures a smooth trip. In fact, while the number of cases as a whole increased 64%, animal strikes during normal daylight hours increased a disproportionate 150%, leading to 2.5 times the normal rate.

To keep animals and drivers safe, Lytx advises people driving to slow down: 73% of all animal strike cases they collected occurred when the truck was traveling at 55 MPH or higher.

Faster Driving

Data from the past six weeks shows that truckers are traveling roughly 10% faster than they used to due to less traffic on the open road combined with the rising demand for essential goods.

Truckers may rejoice at the prospect of cutting down on driving time to make a delivery, but the truth is that speeding has a multitude of extra consequences. Not only do most animal collisions occur above 55 MPH (as detailed above), but 33% of all fatal crashes involve speeding. Combine this with lower fuel efficiency and the chances of getting a speeding ticket, and the math for speeding does not add up for anyone other than highway patrol officers.

Safety Increases

The changes in driving incidents are not all negative. Fewer vehicles on the road mean less moving obstacles for truckers to watch. For the month of March 2020, when compared to March 2019, Lytx found:

  • Unavoidable near-collisions reduced by 23%.
  • Avoidable near-collisions reduced by 25%.
  • Collisions reduced by 28%.
  • Failing to keep an out for unsafe circumstances reduced by 28%.
  • Late responses reduced by 62%.

Conclusion

No other group of workers has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak quite in the same way truck drivers have. Whether it be the shutdown of rest stops across the country, unprecedented suspension of regulations due to a state of emergency, or the increased demand for toilet paper and other essentials, truckers have their work cut out for them. If the various states stay true to their words about plans to reopen, society should be getting to somewhere around normal in early June. Until then, it is best to practice social distancing and wear gloves at the diesel pump!

Article courtesy of TopMark Funding.

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