The Covid-19 pandemic has kept most Americans locked down for weeks now, but the tight public health measures, alas, haven’t slashed as much as might be hoped two leading, non-virus causes of harms to people: reckless driving and senseless violence, especially with guns.
The road mayhem is a real head-scratcher, as a frequent factor in fender-benders and motorist frustration has all but vanished: traffic congestion. As the Washington Post reported:
“Traffic nationwide is down 41% compared with pre-pandemic volumes, according to the transportation-data firm Inrix. Some of the country’s busiest highways have emptied, with volumes down by 50% in Los Angeles, 60% in New York City and 68% in Washington …But traffic incidents, such as crashes, have dropped only 21% nationwide. In some of the most congested areas of the country, average speeds have increased by as much as 250%. For example, the average 5 p.m. speed on Interstate 405 in Los Angeles went from a crawling 19 mph to 68 mph, Inrix says. In Chicago, the average speed on Interstate 290 more than doubled to 62 mph from 24 mph. In the Washington region, average speeds during the evening rush rose from 27 mph to nearly 70 mph on the Capital Beltway, well above the posted 55 mph limit.”