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Less Traffic Doesn’t Always Mean Less Accidents
The Cochran Firm - Dallas
1-800-THE-FIRM

Frustrated at the speed of my internet at home. Excited to finally catch up on TV shows that I haven’t had time to watch yet. Worried about the financial, physical and emotional health of my family and employees (who are extended family). These are just some of the highs and lows I’ve experienced since coronavirus took over our lives.

But now I’m mad. Really, really mad. Not at the virus, science or our politicians (although those are topics for a later discussion).    

I’m just mad and extremely disappointed at society in general right now.  

I began my day yesterday by reading an article in the Houston Chronicle about roadway deaths in Texas. A natural assumption would be that those numbers would drop during the pandemic because less people are presumably on the roads. Sadly, that is not the case. While people are driving half as many miles there was only a 21% drop in fatalities from last March.  

During the afternoon, my wife and I went for a walk in our neighborhood. Yes, there was a lot less traffic than we are accustomed to. However, we saw people running stop signs, using excessive speed and failing to yield at pedestrian crosswalks. Admittedly, living in a big city I’ve become a bit numb to this type of behavior (and may have occasionally exceeded the speed limit myself but I digress).  

The impact of these behaviors hit home in a very personal way last night. That is why I am mad.  

I received an urgent text from a close friend asking for a referral to a specialist. His daughter, home from college due to Covid-19 had been out jogging and was run over while crossing the street at a stop sign. 

Thankfully, what could have been catastrophic is (only) a broken nose, some sprains and a lot of road rash. She will require surgery which would normally be scary enough but during a pandemic, it takes on a whole new meaning.  

This, along with most accidents could have been prevented. As a personal injury trial lawyer, my overarching goal has always been to make the world a safer place.  

The sad fact is that less traffic doesn’t translate into safer drivers. In fact, it might be having the opposite effect because there is more room to speed and nobody is watching to make sure you make a “full stop” at that red sign.  

While we are being forced to hit the “pause” button on our normal lives, we have a great opportunity to reshape our behaviors and ultimately our future. This includes making things better or worse for the people around us and being safe drivers.  

Some ways we can do that is by focusing on the following:

  • Minimize distractions – Don’t text or talk on the phone while in the car. In fact, consider leaving your phone in the center console. Also, keep the radio at a reasonable noise level.  
  • Bicyclists are people too – While there are less cars on the road now, there are also more bicyclists. Constantly check your rear view mirror and always pay attention to the road in front of you for our friends on two wheels.  
  • Kids are still kids – They are frustrated at being cooped up and are looking for ways to burn off some of that energy. This means that they are present at times and locations where they normally might not be. Their excitement doesn’t always know the boundaries of safety so always be on the lookout.  
  • Do the right thing – Even when nobody else is around. Pretend that the person you want to impress most (or are most scared of if that works better) is watching your driving habits and act accordingly.  
  • Delivery trucks – More things are being delivered now and we often have to navigate the big trucks while they are parked. It is super easy for a child or an animal to dart out from behind so proceed cautiously in these situations.  
  • Parking – Park as you normally would. Stay within the lines and don’t park too close to another car. Social distancing should apply to parking as well.  

While this crisis is definitely challenging, we are in it together. That same concept applies to the world and together we can all do our part to make it a better…and safer place. 

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