States across the U.S. are beginning to reopen for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March. As movement restrictions relax and more businesses open their doors, you may find that you need to leave your house more frequently and get back on the road. However, after nearly two months of limited or no driving, you may find it more difficult than normal to prepare your car and yourself for this change.
The Missouri car accident attorneys at Sansone & Lauber have gathered information to help make this transition easier and safer. We are dedicated to protecting you and your loved ones throughout the uncertainty of COVID-19.
Statistics on Drivers Getting Back Behind the Wheel
At the height of the pandemic in mid-March, traffic around the world dropped sharply. In St. Louis, traffic congestion dropped to below 20% road capacity from mid-March through April, compared to approximately 40% road capacity during the same time period in 2019.
However, these conditions are slowly starting to change. Driving data from the week of May 8 shows a 60% increase in road traffic, since the height of the pandemic. Although total traffic is still 49% lower than the average in January 2020, this increase demonstrates that more people are gaining the confidence to get back on the road.
Despite these changes, Streetlight Data CEO, Laura Schewel believes that returning to typical traffic patterns will be a slow and cautious process.
Guidance for Getting Back on the Road After Lockdown
Traffic researchers have competing views about how the coronavirus will impact the future of driving. Some researchers believe that traffic congestion will remain lower than normal because many people will continue to work from home. Other researchers expect traffic to increase dramatically because fewer people will feel comfortable using public transportation.
Although future traffic patterns are still widely unknown, the current road conditions indicate that driving might have greater risks during the time of coronavirus. Police departments from across the United States have reported fewer car crashes over the past few months because of reduced traffic congestion. However, the crashes that occur are typically very serious or even deadly because more drivers are speeding or driving while distracted on the empty roads.
To ensure that you stay safe as you get back on the road, it is essential that you adhere to the following traffic safety guidelines:
- Drive at or below the speed limit.
- Obey all traffic lights and signs.
- Maintain a safe distance between vehicles.
- Use turn signals and headlights when appropriate.
- Reduce distractions in your vehicle.
- Wear a seat belt every time you are in the car.
- Complete routine maintenance on your vehicle.
- Avoid driving when fatigued.
- Take additional caution when driving in bad weather.
Although these safety measures may seem simple, it is important to refresh your knowledge about safe driving standards after a long period without driving. Following the law and paying attention while you drive are the best ways to keep you and your loved ones safe as you return to normal driving habits.
Tips for Your Car to Get Moving Again After Lockdown
If you have not driven your car since the start of lockdown, or even if you have used your car much less than normal, your vehicle may need additional maintenance before you get back on the road. Cars that are parked for a long period of time may have difficulty starting and performing safely unless you properly prepare your car before you start driving again.
To get your car ready to drive after lockdown, AAA recommends that you:
- Check the tire pressure.
- Look for corrosion on or around the battery.
- Check the car’s oil, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid and change these fluids if necessary.
- Keep the gas tank as full as possible or consider adding a fuel stabilizer.
- Check for frozen or rusted brakes if you have left the parking brake on.
- Continue your vehicle’s insurance.
Taking these steps can help you avoid or repair any damage that occurs when a car is parked for a long period of time. By maintaining your vehicle during the lockdown, you can ensure that you can drive safely when you are ready to get back on the road.
Driving Restrictions During Coronavirus
On April 6, 2019, the governor of Missouri issued a stay-at-home order for people across the state. This statewide mandate ended on April 24, but some counties extended this order through mid-May. Although the stay-at-home order has been lifted statewide, there are still some restrictions and guidelines in place to help keep citizens and drivers safe.
The Missouri Department of Transportation explained that all highways and other roads remain open for general use. However, they recommend limiting travel as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Highway rest areas have remained open during the pandemic, with increased cleaning and disinfecting.
On May 22, the Health Commissioner reported that large venues, swimming pools, and fitness centers are set to reopen with reduced capacity in early June. However, despite reduced restrictions on movement and activities, the government recommends that all Missouri citizens maintain social distancing and limit group interactions as much as possible.
Have a Question for a Missouri Car Accident Lawyer? Get in Touch Now
Getting back on the road after lockdown involves a natural amount of uncertainty. The fact remains that accidents will still happen, and people will be injured due to the recklessness or carelessness of other drivers. When this happens, our team of experienced trial lawyers will be ready to help you understand your rights and legal options.
If you have been hurt in an accident, contact Sansone & Lauber today.