April 7, 2020 — Add collision repair to the list of businesses that will be decimated by the COVID-19 virus over the next couple of months.
Even though vehicle service and repair shops are deemed “essential businesses” in each state, the collision business likely will plummet as vehicles are staying parked in driveways due to 44 states ordering their people to stay home for the next month.
That means fewer accidents.
The number of motor vehicle accidents in New York City from March 22 — the date Governor Cuomo’s order closing nonessential businesses went into effect — to March 31 dropped 70.8% from the same period in 2019.
Based on data compiled by New York City’s OpenData platform, New York City’s accidents declined from 5,585 the last week in March in 2019 to 1,632 in 2020.
It’s likely April will show a similar decline as Governor Cuomo yesterday extended the nonessential ban to April 29.
Overall in March, the number of accidents dropped 39% — 17,760 last year to 10,821 this year. (See Figure 1 below).
The New York City data provides a tiny snapshot of what likely will happen in April across the country as 44 states and the District of Columbia have now issued their own nonessential business bans and “stay-at-home” orders.
A positive outcome of fewer accidents means fewer fatalities and fewer injuries (in New York City, the number of fatalities dropped from 16 in March 2019 to seven in March 2020).
It’s a different story, though, for dealerships and body shop businesses that rely on vehicle accidents. The total annual collision repair business in the United States is approximately $34 billion generated from nearly 6.8 million accidents each year.
Assuming the state-wide bans stay in place through April and into part of May, with the country slowly getting back to business in late May and June, the industry could take an estimated $4 to $5 billion hit this year.
Supporting businesses, such as vehicle paint, parts, glass/windshield repair, towing companies, and vehicle salvage yards, will also be hit hard.
NOTE: From the OpenData website: “The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) partner to form the Open Data team. As a hub of analytics in the City, MODA advocates for the use of Open Data in citywide data analytics and in the community. DoITT manages the technical operations with City agencies and our vendor partner Socrata, ensuring that technological capabilities are always evolving to better meet user needs. Agencies are the data owners and have Open Data Coordinators who serve as the primary point of contact with the Open Data team.”