Research shows Texas roads are less busy, but more dangerous during pandemic

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HOUSTON (CW39) – The Texas A&M Transportation Institute did a study on the changes in transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 virus had a dramatic effect on the way that Texans travel particularly during the month of April when the idea of stay at home and social distancing and travel restrictions were at their fullest effect,” said Robert Wunderlich, the director for the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Overall what the study found was that traffic crashes went down significantly during April. Crashes were down 47% that month.

The study also shows that fatalities did not go down nearly the same amount. Fatalities were only down 20% in April despite crashes being down so much overall.

“What that means is that the probability of a serious or fatal crash went up during the COVID period. So we started to look at what are the reasons for that?,” said Wunderlich.

What they determined is that since there were so many less people on the roads, a lot of traffic congestion went away and speeds during normal peak periods went up to about 65 miles per hour from 46 miles per hour, so with increased speed, severity of the crashes went up.

Wunderlich went on to explain as speeds get higher, the consequences are greater and said we’ve got to find ways to reduce risk, starting with wearing seatbelt and not being impaired or distracted.

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