What the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Meant For Car Accidents in NYC

by Craig D. Rosenbaum on Oct. 21, 2020

Accident & Injury Car Accident 

Summary: The coronavirus pandemic affected traffic in New York City in several ways. During the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicles disappeared from New York City streets. With strict stay-at-home orders in place, the usual traffic congestion typical around the city eased as schools, businesses, and workplaces

The coronavirus pandemic affected traffic in New York City in several ways. During the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicles disappeared from New York City streets. With strict stay-at-home orders in place, the usual traffic congestion typical around the city eased as schools, businesses, and workplaces closed. 


Coronavirus Effects on New York City Traffic

As New York City became the hot spot for the coronavirus in the United States, the city remained shut down for months as officials tried to control the spread of the virus. NYC residents were told to remain at home. Therefore, traffic throughout the city sharply decreased.


With fewer vehicles on the roads, there was a decrease in the number of traffic accidents. Even though the number of overall car accidents decreased, the number of high-speed crashes increased.


With fewer cars on the road, some drivers took advantage of the empty streets to travel at excessive speeds and drag races. Thousands of speeding tickets were issued across the city. The number of speeding tickets issued daily by automatic speeding cameras doubled. 


Other people took advantage of the empty streets to walk and ride bicycles. Many streets were closed to cars during the pandemic to facilitate bicycling and walking. Limiting car access to certain streets allowed individuals more space to get outside while following social distancing guidelines.


Another change around New York City was an increase in outdoor dining. As city officials eased restrictions, restaurants were permitted to set up outdoor dining for customers. Unfortunately, some individuals who were merely trying to enjoy being out of their homes were victims of traffic accidents.


At least four vehicles crashed into outdoor dining areas since the city eased the restrictions on outdoor dining. Eight people were injured in accidents at street-dining areas. The dining areas were permitted by the city.


Traffic Accidents May Increase as New York City Reopens

As New York City continues to reopen and traffic levels return to normal, incidents of excessive speeding may decrease. However, the number of overall traffic accidents may return to the average number of traffic accidents before COVID-19 shut the city down. As with other issues related to the coronavirus, it is unknown how the pandemic will impact traffic in NYC in the long-term.


It can be helpful to understand the basics of a car accident claim in New York in case you are injured in a crash.


New York is a fault state. If a driver causes a traffic accident, the driver can be held financially liable for any damages caused by the accident. In most cases, the driver’s car insurance company pays the injury claim.


New York requires that all drivers carry minimum liability insurance for property damage and bodily injury. The minimum insurance required for bodily injury is $25,000 per person ($50,000 per accident). 


Accident victims are entitled to compensation for financial damages, including loss of income and medical expenses. They are also entitled to compensation for pain, suffering, and permanent impairments. 


Unfortunately, insurance companies may deny valid accident claims. Some insurance companies may undervalue claims to save money. 


Car accident lawyers help victims fight for fair and just compensation after an automobile accident. Lawyers investigate car crashes to gather evidence proving fault and liability. They negotiate settlements and file lawsuits when insurance companies refuse to negotiate in good faith.


How Can We Prevent Automobile Accidents in New York City?

There are steps that everyone who uses the roads and streets throughout the city can do to decrease the chance of a traffic accident. Safety steps to decrease traffic accidents include:

  • Never drive, walk, or bicycle while intoxicated
  • Drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists should avoid distractions and keep their attention focused on the road
  • Obey all traffic laws, including laws pertaining to motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists
  • Avoid driving or bicycling when you are fatigued or drowsy
  • Motorists need to pay close attention at intersections for pedestrians
  • Always obey all posted speed limits and reduce speed when necessary, such as in poor weather conditions or congested traffic
  • Plan your route before you leave for your destination 
  • When walking and bicycling, wear brightly colored clothing and use reflectors or lights to increase visibility to motorists


NYC’s Vision Zero website has additional information and safety toolkits for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by traffic accidents.

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