A Coronavirus silver lining : Less driving, fewer crashes

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Motor vehicle crashes cost the US $242 billion a year, according to the most recent estimate.

 A study finds that California lockdown restrictions reduced crashes that kill or seriously injure people to 200 a day, down from 400 in the same period last year.

FOR ALL THE misery Covid-19 has wrought, the shelter-in-place orders imposed in the name of public health have yielded a few benefits, at least for driving. American motorists are putting half as many miles on their odometers as they usually do this time of year, according to Arity, a data analytics company. One result is reduced air pollution. Another is fewer crashes, saving lives and money. In California alone, those savings amount to some $40 million each day, well over $1 billion since the state went into lockdown mode in March.

That figure—presented in a new study by researchers at the UC Davis—is surprising only if you don’t consider the economic ripples of a crash. Counting medical expenses and productivity losses stemming from injuries and deaths, car crashes cost the US economy more than $75 billion in 2017. Throw in property damage, emergency responders, insurance costs, congestion, and the inevitable court cases, and it’s far more. In 2010, the most recent year for which the grand total is available, crashes cost the US $242 billion. California accounted for $20 billion of that sum.

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