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Only a few months separate these two images of eastbound traffic on Interstate 565 near the Mooresville exit at around 9 a.m. On the left, a picture taken in November. The image on the right was taken Wednesday. Traffic on I-565 has decreased 30% to 40% on weekdays, an official said.

Auto accidents drop as traffic decreases during pandemic; many save on insurance

Measures to limit the spread of the new coronavirus have decreased traffic on Alabama roads, resulting in fewer collisions and saving many motorists money on auto insurance.

“Traffic volumes on Interstates 65 and 565 are experiencing a decrease of 30-to-40% for weekdays,” said Seth Burkett of the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Traffic is down nearly 50% on those two interstates during the weekend, he said.

Data and analytics firm Arity, which is owned by Allstate, reported on April 9 that the total number of miles traveled was down 50% nationwide.

Fewer cars on the road has led to fewer traffic collisions this month.

There were 505 crashes, 168 injuries and 10 fatalities in the first 10 days of April this year, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. That’s considerably less than the number of crashes (976) and injuries (388) in the first 10 days of April 2019. It is also six fewer fatalities. There were 16 fatalities from auto collisions in the first 10 days of April 2019.

Statewide motor vehicle accidents are also down for the first four months of the year. There have been 8,269 crashes as of April 10 for 2020. That’s down from 8,779 accidents during that time last year.

Insurance affected

The Alabama Department of Insurance released a bulletin on April 8 encouraging auto insurers to reduce premiums in the form of premium credits or the return of a premium to help drivers who may be struggling during the pandemic.

“We have a very open and transparent line of communication with the industry,” said Jerry Workman, deputy commissioner for the Alabama Department of Insurance. “We communicate on a regular basis whether it’s about COVID-19 issues or general issues that come up on an everyday basis.”

So far, the office has been pleased with the response from insurers.

The top 10 auto insurance providers nationwide have all committed to giving their policyholders money back during the outbreak.

State Farm, the largest auto insurance provider in the country, recently announced it would give customers a 25% credit from March 30 to May 31st, adding up to almost $2 billion in relief.

Geico, Progressive, and Allstate have all offered similar adjustments to costumers. Geico promised $2.5 billion. Allstate will return $600 million, and Progressive promised nearly $1 billion in the form of a 20 percent credit for April and May premiums.

“I think the industry as a whole is doing the right thing and moving forward,” Workman said. “They are working with their policyholders.”

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