Travel restrictions and shelter-in-place orders created due to the COVID-19 virus have contributed to fewer vehicle accidents, according to area law enforcement agencies.
Capt. John Paul, commander of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Troop G in Lawton, said collisions dropped 36% for the time period of March 1-April 20 compared to the same time period in 2019.
In Lawton, figures show 157 accidents for March 1-April 20 compared to 293 for the time period in 2019.
“Oh, yeah, people are definitely staying at home. I don’t think everyone just became better drivers,” Paul said. “There’s less traffic and that’s related, at least in part, to COVID-19 and sheltering in place.”
Lawton police spokesman Sgt. Timothy Jenkins said the decrease of 135 accidents can be attributed to the virus restrictions.
“Businesses are closed, people are at home so there’s less traffic and a lot less people on the road,” he said.
Fewer accidents also were reported in Altus, according to police reports. Police in Altus worked 55 wrecks for March 1-April 20 compared to 71 for the same period in 2019. Figures from Duncan police were not available.
At the same time, major insurance companies are rewarding their customers with varying levels of discounts and credits because of COVID-19.
State Farm, the nation’s largest auto insurer, announced it would give policyholders an estimated 25% credit on premiums paid between March 20 and May 31. That credit will return $2 billion to customers on 40 million vehicles.
Meanwhile, Chubb Auto Insurance is offering a 35% premium reduction for April and May, while Allstate and Liberty Mutual are issuing 15% refunds on premiums, the companies announced.
These announcements by the insurance companies allow consumers to shop for the best deals. In doing so, consumers can emphasize they are driving much less, which makes them less risky and warrants a lower premium, insurance analysts contend.
Another strategy, analysts say, is for consumers to ask for an adjustment in the amount of mileage that is factored into a premium.
Earlier this month, Michael L. Tipsord, chairman, president and chief executive officer of State Farm, said in a statement, “We insure more cars than anyone and we see from our claims activity people are driving less. This dividend is one of the ways we’re working to help our customers during this unprecedented situation.”