Assessing inequality, irregularity, and severity regarding road traffic safety during COVID-19


COVID-19 has affected every sector of our society, among which human mobility is taking a dramatic change due to quarantine and social distancing. We investigate the impact of the pandemic and subsequent mobility changes on road traffic safety. Using traffic accident data from the city of Los Angeles and New York City, we find that the impact is not merely a blunt reduction in traffic and accidents; rather, (1) the proportion of accidents unexpectedly increases for “Hispanic” and “Male” groups; (2) the “hot spots” of accidents have shifted in both time and space and are likely moved from higher-income areas (e.g., Hollywood and Lower Manhattan) to lower-income areas (e.g., southern LA and southern Brooklyn); (3) the severity level of accidents decreases with the number of accidents regardless of transportation modes. Understanding those variations of traffic accidents not only sheds a light on the heterogeneous impact of COVID-19 across demographic and geographic factors, but also helps policymakers and planners design more effective safety policies and interventions during critical conditions such as the pandemic.

Publication Title

Scientific Reports