Pandemic closures linked to bad driving among teens, adults
Coronavirus pandemic-related closures leave some drivers out of practice, encourage recklessness in others
New analysis from AAA suggests that the coronavirus pandemic may have something to do with worsening driving skills, particularly among young people.
Good driving is all about developing good habits, and that takes practice. For a young driver still developing those habits, two or three months without regular practice can stall their progress. That means that when they get behind the wheel again for the first time in months, it’s likely that their skills will be a bit rusty and they’ll be more prone to accidents. This is especially important for parents to remember as many pandemic-related restrictions are lifting just as the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers are beginning.
Historically, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the worst time of year for fatal auto accidents involving teen drivers. This year, AAA warns, conditions could be worse than usual. Parents should first recognize the inherent hazards their teenage drivers will be facing. As eager as their teen driver may be for the freedom of a summer without stay-at-home orders, they may be dangerously out of practice driving during a time when deadly crashes are already at a peak. To combat this, parents can take some steps to help keep their teens (and everyone else on the roads) safe. Clock some more hours of supervised driving to help your teen develop good habits. Teach by example and always model safe driving behaviors; your teen won’t take your advice seriously if you don’t follow it yourself.
It’s not just young people whose driving skills are in poor shape amid COVID-19. Less traffic has led to increases in speeding, distraction, and reckless driving. The Pennsylvania State Police and the PA Turnpike Commission reported over Memorial Day weekend many drivers were traveling at speeds in excess of 100 MPH, and were spending more time on their phones behind the wheel.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, even experienced drivers should take extra care when returning to travel. Those who haven’t been on the roads in months may not be as alert simply from being off the road for so long.
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