International Journal of Critical Illness and Injury Science

EDITORIAL
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


Andrew C Miller 
 Department of Emergency Medicine, Alton Memorial Hospital, Alton, IL, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Andrew C Miller
Department of Emergency Medicine, Alton Memorial Hospital, 1 Memorial Dr, Alton, IL 62002
USA




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;11:189-190


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 2022 Jan 26 ];11:189-190
Available from: https://www.ijciis.org/text.asp?2021/11/4/189/332863


Full Text



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.

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