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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 189-190

What's new in critical illness and injury science? Driving characteristics and rates of road traffic accidents and associated serious injuries and fatalities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Department of Emergency Medicine, Alton Memorial Hospital, Alton, IL, USA

Date of Submission06-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance06-Dec-2021
Date of Web Publication18-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Andrew C Miller
Department of Emergency Medicine, Alton Memorial Hospital, 1 Memorial Dr, Alton, IL 62002
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijciis.ijciis_106_21

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How to cite this article:
Miller AC. What's new in critical illness and injury science? Driving characteristics and rates of road traffic accidents and associated serious injuries and fatalities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci 2021;11:189-90

How to cite this URL:
Miller AC. What's new in critical illness and injury science? Driving characteristics and rates of road traffic accidents and associated serious injuries and fatalities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Jan 29];11:189-90. Available from: https://www.ijciis.org/text.asp?2021/11/4/189/332863

Governments have imposed varying degrees of limitations on mobility locally, nationally, and internationally. Lockdown, or stay-at-home orders, restrict nonessential public mobility. As such, many workers have transitioned to remote work or nonemployment, and many students have transitioned to remote or virtual learning. Globally, significant reductions in traffic volumes and congestion have been reported, particular during lockdown periods.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5] While survey-based analyses have reported that prevailing public perceptions are that roads became safer and driving behaviors improved during periods of mobility restriction,[6],[7] expert opinion and objective data suggest a more nuanced and possibly conflicting reality.[2],[7],[8]

While self-reported data on speeds indicate a reduction in speeding,[9] objective data obtained from phone applications and other sources indicate an increase in driving speeds and extreme speeding.[2],[8] Similarly, while self-reported rates of mobile phone usage while driving reportedly decreased during COVID-19 restrictions,[9] objective data note an increase in mobile phone use and harsh acceleration and braking events.[2]

Emerging data are clarifying the effects of lockdown and stay-at-home orders on road traffic accidents (RTA) and associated injuries and fatalities. While two reports from the United States of America (USA) noted no change in RTAs,[4],[10] the majority of analyses suggest a global decrease in RTAs, including data from Australia,[1] China,[11] Greece,[2],[12] Nepal,[13] Qatar,[7] Spain,[14] the USA,[3],[5],[15],[16],[17],[18] and globally.[19] This was particularly seen during periods of stay-at-home orders. When taken at face value, there would appear to be a clear negative correlation between movement restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic and RTAs.

However, reports on crash severity have been conflicting, with reports from Australia and the USA (Alabama) reporting an increase in crash severity,[1],[5] while another report from the USA reported a decrease in crash severity.[15] Data on RTA-associated serious and fatal injuries are similarly unclear, with some reports from the USA (Missouri, Connecticut) reporting no change,[10],[16] while an increase was reported in Greece,[12] and decreases were reported in Canada,[20] Nepal,[13] the USA (Ohio),[3] and globally.[19]

Despite the clear trend toward decreased overall RTAs during the pandemic periods of lockdown, the latter data on crash severity and serious injuries and fatalities highlight the complexity of the issue and the need for deeper analysis. For example, data from Greece and Nepal suggest that the overall reductions in RTAs were disproportionate and less substantial than would be expected for the corresponding reductions in traffic volume during these periods.[12],[13]

The variability of reports on RTA-associated serious injuries and fatalities suggests a complex interplay of important variables. Indeed, significant heterogeneity has been noted in study outcomes by age, gender, ethnicity, geography, and driving behaviors such as speeding, aggressive driving, and distracted driving.[2],[8],[9],[18],[20],[21] In addition, RTAs involving wildlife increased during lockdown periods.[4] Future investigations should take such variables into account during the analyses and report data controlled for variables such as traffic volume along with the summative overall trends to better inform the public and policymakers.

Research quality and ethics statement

This report was exempt from the requirement of approval by the Institutional Review Board/Ethics Committee. The author followed applicable EQUATOR Network (http://www.equator-network.org/) guidelines; however, no specific guideline is available for editorials.

   References Top

Chand S, Yee E, Alsultan A, Dixit VV. A descriptive analysis on the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on road traffic incidents in Sydney, Australia. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021;18:11701.  Back to cited text no. 1
Katrakazas C, Michelaraki E, Sekadakis M, Yannis G. A descriptive analysis of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on driving behavior and road safety. Transp Res Interdiscip Perspect 2020;7:100186.  Back to cited text no. 2
Li L, Neuroth LM, Valachovic E, Schwebel DC, Zhu M. Association between changes in social distancing policies in Ohio and traffic volume and injuries, January through July 2020. JAMA 2021;325:1003-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Abraham JO, Mumma MA. Elevated wildlife-vehicle collision rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sci Rep 2021;11:20391.  Back to cited text no. 4
Adanu EK, Brown D, Jones S, Parrish A. How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect road crashes and crash outcomes in Alabama? Accid Anal Prev 2021;163:106428.  Back to cited text no. 5
Vanlaar WG, Woods-Fry H, Barrett H, Lyon C, Brown S, Wicklund C, et al. The impact of COVID-19 on road safety in Canada and the United States. Accid Anal Prev 2021;160:106324.  Back to cited text no. 6
Alhajyaseen WK, Almukdad A, Hussain Q, Almallah M, Al Malki MA, Singaravelu J, et al. Road safety status during COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring public and road safety expert's opinions. Int J Inj Contr Saf Promot 2021. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1080/17457300.2021 0.1962915. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 06].  Back to cited text no. 7
Tucker A, Marsh KL. Speeding through the pandemic: Perceptual and psychological factors associated with speeding during the COVID-19 stay-at-home period. Accid Anal Prev 2021;159:106225.  Back to cited text no. 8
Truelove V, Watson-Brown N, Parker E, Freeman J, Davey J. Driving through a pandemic: A study of speeding and phone use while driving during COVID-19 restrictions. Traffic Inj Prev 2021;22:605-10.  Back to cited text no. 9
Doucette ML, Tucker A, Auguste ME, Gates JD, Shapiro D, Ehsani JP, et al. Evaluation of motor vehicle crash rates during and after the COVID-19-associated stay-at-home order in Connecticut. Accid Anal Prev 2021;162:106399.  Back to cited text no. 10
Huang W, Lin Q, Xu F, Chen D. Effect of COVID-19 on epidemiological characteristics of road traffic injuries in Suzhou: A retrospective study. BMC Emerg Med 2021;21:88.  Back to cited text no. 11
Sekadakis M, Katrakazas C, Michelaraki E, Kehagia F, Yannis G. Analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on collisions, fatalities and injuries using time series forecasting: The case of Greece. Accid Anal Prev 2021;162:106391.  Back to cited text no. 12
Sedain B, Pant PR. Road traffic injuries in Nepal during COVID-19 lockdown. F1000Res 2020;9:1209.  Back to cited text no. 13
Saladié Á, Bustamante E, Gutiérrez A. COVID-19 lockdown and reduction of traffic accidents in Tarragona province, Spain. Transp Res Interdiscip Perspect 2020;8:100218.  Back to cited text no. 14
Brodeur A, Cook N, Wright T. On the effects of COVID-19 safer-at-home policies on social distancing, car crashes and pollution. J Environ Econ Manage 2021;106:102427.  Back to cited text no. 15
Qureshi AI, Huang W, Khan S, Lobanova I, Siddiq F, Gomez CR, et al. Mandated societal lockdown and road traffic accidents. Accid Anal Prev 2020;146:105747.  Back to cited text no. 16
Zhang J, Feng B, Wu Y, Xu P, Ke R, Dong N. The effect of human mobility and control measures on traffic safety during COVID-19 pandemic. PLoS One 2021;16:e0243263.  Back to cited text no. 17
Rudisill TM. The association between a statewide stay-at-home order and motor vehicle injury rates among population sub-groups in West Virginia. Traffic Inj Prev 2021;22:501-6.  Back to cited text no. 18
Yasin YJ, Grivna M, Abu-Zidan FM. Global impact of COVID-19 pandemic on road traffic collisions. World J Emerg Surg 2021;16:51.  Back to cited text no. 19
Rapoport MJ, Chee JN, Aljenabi N, Byrne PA, Naglie G, Ilari F, et al. Impact of COVID-19 on motor vehicle injuries and fatalities in older adults in Ontario, Canada. Accid Anal Prev 2021;157:106195.  Back to cited text no. 20
Lin L, Shi F, Li W. Assessing inequality, irregularity, and severity regarding road traffic safety during COVID-19. Sci Rep 2021;11:13147.  Back to cited text no. 21


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