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Telematics Data Shows Uptick in Speeding During COVID-19 Reduced Traffic

Contrary to people’s intuition, the reduction in traffic due to COVID-19 may be making roads less safe for those traveling on them. Unquestionably, “shelter in place” restrictions and health-safety concerns related to the current pandemic have most drivers logging far fewer miles than before. So if traffic volume is down, shouldn’t violations and accidents be down as well? The data suggests otherwise.

According to USA Today, Minnesota has double the auto accidents and related deaths compared to this time one year ago. Los Angeles vehicles are going 30% faster on some streets, and New York City’s automatic speed cameras issued double the number of tickets on March 27 versus February 27.

Camera-issued Speeding Tickets - 2020
New York City’s speed cameras spit out 83,478 violations in an eight-day period in March — only eight percent fewer than a similar eight-day period in January when there were tens if not hundreds of thousands more cars on the road.

While the numbers are staggering, they only represent a portion of infractions taking place throughout the country. NYC’s speed cameras only operate in school zones and issue tickets for violations exceeding 10 mph over the posted limit. Whether drivers are clearly taking advantage of the open roads or just assuming school zone rules don’t apply today (although many still do), hazardous driving is on the rise.

Food Delivery Driving Trends in 2020

While it seems most of the nation is on pause, it’s no surprise delivery restaurants are logging just as many miles as they were before restrictions largely shuttered dine-in restaurants. Franchise owners and operators may be startled at the rate their employees are contributing to the adverse driving conditions in 2020. Data from our client-base alone suggests incidents per mile (IPM) has increased anywhere from 7-10% since January.

An activated telematics device collects a driver’s trip data, recording any speeding, hard cornering, rapid acceleration, and hard braking “incidents.” IPM is the number of incidents a driver accumulates over distance.

The telematics data also shows speeding incidents 10-20 mph over the speed limit climbed steeply from January to April, up by nearly 48%. Speeding incidents exceeding 20 mph over the speed limit are even worse, soaring from 0.446 incidents per 1,000 miles in January to 0.852 in April – a 91% increase.

Speeding 10-20 MPH IPM
Speeding 10-20 MPH IPM
Speeding 20-plus MPH IPM
Speeding 20-plus MPH IPM

Fortunately, franchisees and franchisors empowered by telematics can monitor activity and implement change quickly – launching new communications, policies and procedures, and training aimed at mitigating business risk and protecting lives. Whether you have access to telematics data or not, it’s critical you consistently reinforce safety practices with your team.

The Devastating Impact of Dangerous Driving

Many of the most severe claims occur when a car hits a pedestrian or bicyclist. The pedestrian’s survival rate decreases exponentially once a vehicle’s speed hits 30 mph. Brian Tefft, a researcher at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, published a 2011 report titled “Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death.” In the report, he estimates the risk of severe injury or death using data from a federal study of car crashes from 1994–1998. Here are the original charts:

Risk of death chart
Risk of death for pedestrians struck by a car or light truck. Average risk across all ages with the dotted line representing 95% confidence intervals (left). Average risk for pedestrians ages 30 vs. 70 (right). Source: AAA.

In the charts above, the slope increases drastically once the x-axis is at 30 mph. In other words, even before accounting for the age of the victim, a pedestrian accident at 35 mph will be fatal around 40% of the time. At 45 mph, the fatality rate jumps to over 50%, while a pedestrian is killed 75% of the time when struck at 50 mph.

Managers of delivery restaurants need to understand the impact and liability associated with unsafe driving habits. It is important to coach drivers to drive at the posted speed limits, regardless of how open the roads may be. Not only will the number and severity of accidents be reduced, but any crash victim going to a hospital risks exposure to COVID-19 and further strains an already stretched healthcare system.

Using Telematics Data for Positive Change

As an initiative to keep insurance premiums low and drivers safe, Intrepid Direct encourages franchise owners to explore the benefits of telematics programs. Telematics can help business owners proactively manage risk, productivity, and customer experience by analyzing data points collected on deliveries.

We’ve collected data from tens of millions of miles driven by thousands of delivery drivers across the nation. In most cases, a device is affixed to the vehicle and monitors and records speed, acceleration, braking, and cornering. Unfavorable data can help operators and franchisors shape future policies and trainings, or pinpoint and address specific issues (down to the driver and offense), for example.

When franchise owners embrace telematics and a safety-first culture, the impact is quite immediate. Speeding, sharp cornering, aggressive acceleration, and hard-braking incidents drop off significantly. And while good driving habits not only save lives, they can also mitigate a business’s out-of-pocket expenses and even put a little cash back in your hand from discounts applied to your insurance premium.

To find out more about telematics and opportunities for saving on your insurance premiums, contact Larry Warshaw at lwarshaw@intrepiddirect.com.


Larry Warshaw

Larry has been in the insurance industry in many capacities for well over 20 years including as broker, TPA manager, carrier claims manager, and insurance defense attorney.