In my last blog about driving behaviors during this unprecedented nationwide shutdown, I wrote about how much the volume of traffic on roads has declined, with rush hours seemingly all but disappearing. As LexisNexis® Risk Solutions continues to delve deeper into the data gleaned from across our telematics programs, we are seeing changing patterns in how people are driving. One of the more interesting trends we are seeing is around speeding, hard braking and hard accelerating – three behaviors tracked by our telematics program.

Hitting the open road?

Fewer drivers on the road may not mean that risk has decreased. With a lot of empty roads and highways, and reduced traffic enforcement by many law enforcement agencies across the country thanks to coronavirus shutdowns, many drivers are taking advantage and increasing their speed and driving more dangerously. It is important to note, however, that tickets are being written, especially in areas with automated speeding cameras like New York City.

We looked at telematics data to see how speed trends have changed pre- vs. post-coronavirus shutdowns (Feb 1 – Mar 15 vs Mar 16 – May 3, 2020). Trends show that driving behavior may becoming more hazardous, with drivers taking more risks. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve seen:

  • Speeding more than 20 miles per hour (MPH) above the posted speed limit is up by 40%.
    • Speeding is up even more on highways! Where posted speed limits are greater than 50 MPH, drivers going faster than 20 MPH over the posted limit has increased by 60%.
  • The data also shows that speeding varies in two key age groups:
    • For ages 25-34, speeding 20 MPH above the speed limit is up by 57%.
    • For ages 50+, speeding 5 MPH above the speed limit is up by 43%.

Unfortunately, speeding can also lead to rapid acceleration and/or hard braking incidents, also known as “lead foot” syndrome. During this same time period, we’ve seen:

  • Hard braking increased 19%.
  • Hard braking for speeds over 70 MPH increased 30%.
  • Rapid acceleration for speeds over 70 MPH increased 57%.

While at first glance, hard braking and rapid acceleration may seem insignificant compared to dangerous speeds, there are many reasons why insurers should advise their drivers via their telematics programs to avoid these behaviors.

  • Rapid acceleration and hard braking wastes fuel, and money.
  • Hard braking is often associated with tailgating and other aggressive behaviors, which increases risk of collisions.
  • It puts a strain on the car, which can lead to higher maintenance costs, in addition to the risk of brake failure and accidents.

Fewer cars, but more accidents

Any auto accident can be life-altering. Collisions resulting from high speeds, rapid acceleration or hard braking can result in significantly more severe injuries. The Claims team at LexisNexis Risk Solutions is tracking collision, property damage and bodily injury trends in their monthly benchmarking blog. Click here to see the latest in the series.  

Although traffic volume remained low across the country during the timeframe of the data outlined above, several states are beginning to ease stay-at-home orders. Thus, we suspect to begin seeing additional shifts in traffic patterns. Throughout the coming weeks, we will continue to monitor and report data that indicates shifts in driving behavior during these rapidly changing times and what effect it may have on your business.