Decrease in traffic leads to increase in speed, reckless driving
Nationwide, stay-at-home orders have left typically congested roads and highways with much less traffic. Unfortunately, some drivers have taken the empty road as an invitation to disregard traffic laws. Some states report seeing increased numbers of people pulled over for speeding, and some have even reported increases in traffic fatalities.
With shelter at home rules in place throughout much of the country, fewer people are out on the roads. Many drivers see the open roads as an opportunity to surpass speed limits without impunity. They feel like they are alone on the roads. But in many states, police have issued record numbers of speeding tickets over the past 2 months. Tickets are being issued on both freeways and local roads.
The increased number of speeders and the excessive speed that these cars are traveling at, appear to be directly contributing to increased numbers of accidents and fatalities.
In Massachusetts, 28 people were killed in traffic related deaths in April, including three pedestrians and a cyclist. While this is only one more death than last year, traffic volume is half of what it was in 2019, according to transportation officials. Until investigations can be completed, the significant percentage increase in fatalities is tentatively being attributed to speeding and distracted driving on the empty roads.
Louisiana and Minnesota also followed this trend of record traffic death as a percentage of cars on the road. Minnesota recently saw the highest level of traffic fatalities in that state in 6 years despite a 50% drop in traffic, according to the Wall Street Journal.
And according to Newsday, the New York Police Department (NYPD) issued 4,035 speeding tickets for the week ending May 3, nearly 150% more than they had issued 2 weeks prior. Notably, Mayor DiBlasio and the NYPD stepped up their level of enforcement of speeding violations out of concern that reckless driving could lead to an increased number of accidents and injuries. With hospitals in New York City already at and beyond capacity from the coronavirus crisis, they did not want to risk further demands on the health care system.
We all need to be careful when out on the roads.
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