As every other state in the nation, Maryland is dealing with the vast consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. Nonessential businesses have closed across the state, with many people either working from home or unemployed. One result of this economic slowdown has been reduced vehicle traffic. However, simultaneously, more people are out riding bicycles and walking throughout the week.
Even with fewer vehicles on the road, the uptick in pedestrian and bicycle traffic increases the risk of collisions with pedestrians and bikers. And sadly, these accidents usually result in more severe injuries.
How the coronavirus has made pedestrians and bicyclists less safe
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), limited traffic on roadways during COVID-19 has produced an increase in speeding and other reckless driving activities. Maryland drivers, it seems, are no exception. Maryland State Troopers have reported an increase in speeding tickets and other violations, including 155 citations between April 26th and May 1st, and another 200 traffic stops on the Capital Beltway on May 7th. During those stops, 83 tickets were issued for speeding, and the highest recorded speed was 105mph.
While it is unlikely that you would see cyclists, let alone pedestrians, on the Belt, this type of reckless behavior is translating to local roads as well. Wes Guckert, president and CEO of The Traffic Group, told WTOP that fewer cars on the roads have led to many drivers believing they can go faster; however, driving fast requires a different skillset, per Guckert, that average drivers do not possess.
Tips for Maryland’s cyclists and pedestrians
If you have been spending time on a bike or walking around your neighborhood, keep it up: walking and cycling are good for your health. We want you to be safe while you’re outside, so here are some tips that could help you.
- Stay in bike lanes. Often, we see larger groups of people walking or cycling in the middle of the roads to ensure social distancing from other people and riders. The intention is good, but it is risky. A speeding driver coming around a curve may not be able to stop or swerve in time. Instead, stick to designated bike lanes and bike paths.
- Wear bright clothing. If you prefer walking or riding early in the morning or later at night, wear bright, reflective clothing. It will make you easier to see. Riders should also consider putting lights on their bikes.
- Wear your helmet when riding your bike. Not only is it the law, but it may prevent a serious brain injury in the event of a crash.
- Stay close to your children. We know that it can be hard to keep your kids close by in the warmer weather, especially if they have been cooped up. But it is in your best interest and theirs to keep them close. Consider putting your children between you and another adult when riding single file, if possible, and hold the hands of your little ones when on a family walk. If your children are older, explain clearly why they need to stay near you.
- Only cross at designated crossing areas. Fewer cars may lull you into thinking that crossing the road is safer, but a speeding driver may not be able to stop in time. Cross only where legally allowed, and always look both ways before crossing.
You cannot control the actions of others, but we hope that by following these tips, you can decrease your chances of being injured by a reckless or speeding driver.
If you suffered an injury in a car accident that was caused by another party, our experienced Maryland car crash attorneys at Plaxen & Adler, P.A. can help. We can evaluate your case and pursue any and all compensation you are owed for your losses. To set up a free consultation, give our team a call today at 410.730.7737, or drop us a message through our contact form.