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Tips for Re-Acclimating to Your Daily Commute

Posted in Car Accident on June 21, 2020

The effects of COVID-19 and the global lockdown and quarantines have been wide reaching. Many offices have converted to remote work, while some businesses have closed. This resulted in highways and interstates across the country, including in Nashville, becoming significantly less busy than normal.

If you used Middle Tennessee’s major interstates regularly during the height of the pandemic, you probably noticed your commutes taking much less time than they did before. In addition, you may have noticed fewer accidents, especially near the downtown area.

However, you shouldn’t get complacent, as traffic volumes will slowly begin to increase and you still face many risks on Nashville’s roads, no matter how many vehicles are nearby.

Take These Steps to Protect Yourself on Nashville’s Interstates

Although Tennessee has partially reopened, many people are still working from home or at reduced hours. But gradually, businesses are reopening, and that means a slowly increasing traffic volume on roads like I-40, I-440, and I-65, and I-24.

If you’ve been used to minimal traffic and fast commute times, it may be a shock to suddenly see a “return to normalcy” in terms of traffic jams, slowdowns, an endless sea of brake lights in the distance, and accidents.

Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your risks while you re-acclimate to your commute:

  • Inspect your vehicle—If you’ve driven only sporadically since March, there’s a good chance your vehicle has suffered because of it. Vehicles are at their best when they are driven regularly, and when they are driven only short distances or only a few days out of the month, they’re more likely to break down or become unreliable. Before you head out on your next commute, check your vehicle’s lights, tires, and battery, and be sure to schedule a replacement of any malfunctioning part.
  • Give yourself extra time—A commute that took 30 minutes during the height of COVID-19 may now take 45 minutes to one hour or longer, especially as traffic volumes continue to increase. The more time you budget to get to your destination, the more relaxed you’ll be behind the wheel. And the more relaxed you are, the less mistake-prone you’ll be—which means a safer drive for you and everyone around you.
  • Avoid distractions—Staying focused on the road and the task at hand is always vital when it comes to safe driving, and it’s especially important as drivers return to their daily commutes. Remaining distraction-free means not using your phone while driving. Even using a hands-free functionality for phone calls and texts can still be distracting. If you need to make a phone call or read/send a text message, pull over at a safe location to do so.
  • Check your route before you leave home—The slow return to normalcy can also mean a return to road work and road closures. Be sure to check your route before you leave home using your computer or phone to find out if it’s affected by heavy traffic, construction zones, or closures. Knowing this information ahead of time can help you avoid major delays and potentially dangerous situations on the road.
  • Follow all traffic laws—Even if roads are still a little less busy than you remember, it’s important to follow Tennessee’s traffic laws as closely as possible. That means not speeding, using the left lane only to pass, and changing lanes when you approach a stopped vehicle with emergency lights. Remember that the state’s Move Over Law now applies to ALL vehicles with emergency lights—not just police cars and utility trucks.

Above all, it’s important to be a smart, conscientious, and defensive driver, and to never get overconfident, regardless of whether your daily commute is still a relative ghost town or has become jam-packed once again.

Fatal Auto Accidents Increased During COVID-19

Although commutes may have taken less time than at any point in recent memory, the news wasn’t all good when it came to road safety. Despite there being fewer people on the road than usual, the number of fatal crashes nationwide didn’t decrease. In fact, it increased.

The National Safety Council reports that there was a 14% national increase of fatal auto accidents during the lockdown, with Tennessee’s number increasing by 6%. Experts believe that increase may have been due to drivers being less safety-conscious and more reckless behind the wheel with fewer vehicles on the road.

We’re Here to Help Injured Drivers

At Matt Hardin Law, we’ve been hard at work helping injured people throughout Middle Tennessee during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that while roads have been less busy, accidents still happen—and they’re often due to negligent drivers.

If you or someone you love was hurt in a crash caused by another person’s or party’s carelessness, you may be eligible for compensation, and we want to help you get it. Our Nashville auto accident lawyers are available to review what happened and work with you to determine the best path forward.

We know you need money for your medical bills, lost wages, and other crash-related expenses, and it’s our goal to help you get every penny you’re owed. Contact us today for a free consultation.