Coronavirus disease 2019: What could be the effects on Road safety?
Accident Analysis and Prevention
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In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a world-wide pandemic. Countries introduced public health measures to contain and reduce its spread. These measures included closures of educational institutions, non-essential businesses, events and activities, as well as working from and staying at home requirements. These measures have led to an economic downturn of unprecedented proportions. Generally, as economic activity declines, travel decreases and drivers are exposed to a lower risk of collisions. However, research on previous economic downturns suggests economic downturns differentially affect driver behaviours and situations. COVID-19 pandemic effects on road safety are currently unknown. However, preliminary information on factors such as the increased stress and anxiety brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, more “free” (idle) time, increased consumption of alcohol and drugs, and greater opportunities for speeding and stunt driving, might well have the opposite effect on road safety. Using an interactionist model we identify research questions for researchers to consider on potential person and situation factors associated with COVID-19 that could affect road safety during and after the pandemic. Collaborative efforts by researchers, and public and private sectors will be needed to gather data and develop road safety strategies in relation to the new reality of COVID-19.