As gas prices continue to soar, another major concern is impacting many Illinois drivers. According to data kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 42,060 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars /2021/03 /05/ pandemic-travel-traffic-deaths-up-8-2020-despite-driving-less/4590942001/ This figure represents an 8% increase from 2019. The increase in fatalities is the highest seen in nearly one hundred years – back when many people were driving their brand new Ford Model T’s. With vehicle traffic down sharply during the pandemic, many would wonder why this increase has happened. The root cause of this increase appears to be a substantial rise in high speed fatalities all of which are a result of drivers simply disregarding perhaps the most basic traffic rule. While many of the fatalities seen on our highways before the pandemic were due to violent trucking crashes, the trend on our roadways appears to be increasing due to the reckless operation of passenger cars. As we reach the halfway point in the year, it does not appear that this trend is reversing with increased traffic on our roadways. https://www.cmap.illinois.gov/ updates/all/-/asset_publisher/UIMfSLnFfMB6/content/covid-affects-transportation-update
Reducing speed is a simple way to prevent injuries and death, but being cautious on the road and watching out for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians is probably even more important. The reason for this is because most traffic crashes happen within 4.6 miles of our homes.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375775/#:~:text=The%20median%20distance%20between%20home,occur%20very%20close%20to%20home. Even more concerning is that the average vehicle to pedestrian collision is 1.1 miles from home and a vehicle to cycle collision is 1.2 miles from home. As many of our fellow citizens seem to be demonstrating less consideration for each other on the roadways, the sheer volume of e-commerce deliveries are increasing the risk of harm to our loved ones. It’s fair to estimate that e-commerce deliveries by Amazon, UPS, and FedEx have grown 13-16% every year with no slow down on the horizon. https://www.truckinginfo.com/324451/how-is-the-growth-of-e-commerce-affecting-trucking It stands to reason that the more e-commerce orders we place, the more the risk of harm increases from e-commerce vehicle collisions of all kinds. Although UPS maintains a union workforce, their competitors do not and will not. Along with a non-unionized fleet of drivers comes more turnover, less training, and generally less incentive for safety. It is dangerous enough that Amazon clearly prioritizes profits over safety, but when Amazon’s Flex drivers are injured they are immediately denied workers’ compensation benefits because Amazon considers them independent contractors rather than employees despite telling the Flex drivers how to do their jobs. As the movement to unionize at Amazon grows, there is hope that Amazon Flex drivers will be given fairer treatment by a company worth nearly two trillion dollars.
Not unlike Amazon, gig economy companies like Lyft, Uber-Rasier LLC, DoorDash, GrubHub, and Postmates have a business plan that places profit over prevention of injury. Quite simply, these taxi replacements and food delivery companies enjoy all the benefits of having employees without any of the responsibilities that come with it. Uber drivers are not paid by Uber. Instead, they are paid by Rasier LLC. This allows Uber to control more drivers on more roads and never take responsibility for their driver’s when they cause collisions. Gig economy companies have only recently begun conducting background checks, but alarmingly they do not require their drivers to have any special licensing or any special training. Quite simply, if gig economy employees were given basic training, they would drive safer. Not surprisingly, Uber is reluctant to release many of the traffic crash statistics that they compile. https://techcrunch.com/ 2019/12/05/ubers-fatal-accident-tally-shows-low-rates-but-excludes-key-numbers/ Clearly, the frequency of injuries and fatalities will increase due to gig economy companies like Amazon, Lyft, Uber, Doordash, Grubhub, and a Postmates. Unless and until these companies are held accountable in court, they will take advantage of victims regardless of whether they are injured by a gig economy vehicle or are injured driving a gig economy vehicle.