Four weeks ago, Gov. Kay Ivey issued an unprecedented stay-at-home order to help Alabama limit exposure to the novel coronavirus. Since April 3, we have all seen traffic in Cullman County and the surrounding area dwindle. Because of the order, there are more people at home and fewer vehicles on the streets and roads.
In turn, that means there have been fewer motor vehicle crashes throughout Alabama.
“The governor issued a stay-at-home order,” said Alabama Law Enforcement Trooper Benjamin Carswell. “It is a law, it is a directive that she put out and you don’t need to be on the roadway unless you are engaging in any type of those essential activities.” However, the governor’s order expires on May 1, to be replaced by a “safer at home” order, which is due to expire on May 15.
The state’s Department of Transportation says interstate highway traffic around Montgomery has been down in the month of April by 50 to 55 percent compared to April of last year. According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, there were 921 trooper-investigated crashes in the first 17 days of the month. Those wrecks resulted in 305 injuries and a dozen fatalities.
Compare those figures to April 2019, when there were 1,609 auto crashes, resulting in 673 injuries and 25 deaths.
Even though it’s expected that traffic will increase over the next few weeks, it is unlikely to return in full in that time. Trooper Carswell said that even with fewer vehicles on state highways, roads and streets, drivers are expected to observe posted speed limits.
“Just because there is less cars than you might think doesn’t mean you can go above the posted speed limit or disregard rules of the road,” he said.
There are many dangerous driving behaviors that can end in car accidents, but these are the most common causes of crashes:
- Distracted driving: when drivers pay more attention to their phones, GPS or infotainment system and too little to traffic and the road.
- Speeding: traveling in excess of the speed limit gives the driver less control over their vehicle and less time to react to unexpected events.
- Impaired driving: people who consume alcohol or drugs and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle are among the most dangerous drivers anywhere.
We have all worked to prevent the spread of the virus. It’s time that we all work just as hard to reduce needless traffic crashes, severe injuries and fatalities.
If you or a family member has been harmed in a crash caused a distracted, speeding or drunk driver, contact an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation in Cullman County and across Alabama.