In early 2020, it seemed to many people like the whole world shut down. There were literal shutdowns in many states because of Covid-19, and it was not for many months that things began to look a bit more normal again. It was vaccines hitting the marketplace that started to bring about a return to pre-pandemic life, though the new world little resembles the old one in many ways.
The average person’s work-life was one thing that changed because of the pandemic. Many individuals all over the United States could not go to work for months because states demanded that lots of different businesses close down for safety reasons. Only so-called essential services could remain open during that time, such as gas stations, hospitals, and grocery stores.
One way that brought changes was that there were far fewer cars on the road. What used to be rush hour in some cities hardly resembled what it used to be. There were just a few vehicles on the highways instead of the bumper-to-bumper traffic that most people knew.
It looked like a dystopian future, with hardly any people driving. Now, late in 2021, there are many more cars on the road than there were at this same time last year. Let’s talk about the unintended consequences that temporary automotive layoff caused.
Fewer Cars Meant Fewer Accidents
Car accidents are certainly a daily reality across America, and they kill and injure many people every year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an entity that provides all kinds of interesting car wreck stats. They stated that back in 2018, head-on crashes caused 56% of car-related deaths.
The head-on car crash variety is far from the only one, though. You can also kill or injure yourself through rear-end car wrecks, sideswipe collisions, and T-bone car crashes, which are close behind head-on wrecks in causing deaths and injuries.
Some people love to drive. You probably know them when you see them: they are the ones who spend their Saturdays out in the driveway, tinkering with their prized automobiles. They might have an older model they keep around because they like the way it looks, and they constantly rebuild and add aftermarket features to it.
Many other individuals, though, don’t like driving very much at all. They drive because they feel they have no other choice, particularly if there is not that much in the way of public transportation where they are. In rural areas, there are seldom trains and buses, and if you work outside the home, you may have no choice but to drive.
What’s undeniable is that fewer cars on the road during the 2020 shutdowns meant less car wrecks and fewer injuries and deaths as well. That was one of the few good things that came out of that uncertain time.
Now, Some Individuals Are Making Changes in Their Lives
Late in 2021, most businesses have opened their doors again, even nonessential ones. You can go in most movie theaters. You can go to the gym, as well as bowling alleys, restaurants, and many other establishments.
More individuals are willing to go on vacations and return to their regular routines, especially those who have vaccinated themselves. Even some who don’t believe Covid-19 is all that serious are returning to their previous lifestyles, for better or worse.
What this amounts to is that there are more cars on the roads again, though maybe not quite as many as there used to be. Some people seemed to like that driving layoff, and they decided to make it permanent, even as things gradually started to open back up over the past few months.
More People Work from Home Now
During the shutdown’s early days, some companies realized that they would have to go to a primarily online model if they wanted to stay in business. They started exploring work-from-home options for their employees. Some of them were doing this a bit already, but now they embraced this new model wholeheartedly.
Lots of the workers who tried this new system loved it. They liked that they could sleep a bit longer in the mornings. They could eat lunch at noon in their kitchen with their loved ones, and they could be with their pets all day.
Many also liked the new system because they did not have to drive as much anymore. They saved money on gas, and they did not have to deal with the stop-and-go traffic they once dreaded. They knew that if they drove so much less, there was less chance another vehicle would hit them and either kill or injure them.
The New World
That is why there are more cars on the road right now than there were at this time a year ago, yet there are still not as many as during the pre-pandemic times. Some companies have agreed to let their workers keep handling their business from home, and that’s the best thing for morale. Other companies continue letting their employees work from home at least part of the time now, even if they still make them come in a couple of days per week.
In some ways, it seems like a brave new world. There will always be some jobs that you have to do in person, but the pandemic showed that another way was possible for more industries than bosses once imagined. One result is that fewer people have to drive, and most are just fine with that.
Some of these individuals might give up their cars entirely in the months and years to come. If they have some public transportation options and they can work from home, why not do it? They can also take an Uber or Lyft somewhere if they need another alternative.
Multiple-car families have gone down to one vehicle. The more this happens, the better it is for the planet, and the better it is for some individuals in the working world.
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Brett is the Managing Editor of this website. A former business executive turned teacher, activist, and writer, Brett also operates an anonymous Twitter account with a very large following.