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The pandemic, along with stay-at-home orders, kept many drivers off the road during the 2020 year. However, according to a report from the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 42,000 people are estimated to have died on U.S. roadways last year. This marks an 8% increase over 2019, considering that it was in a year when people drove significantly less frequently because of the pandemic. 

Although the NSC didn’t explain why this trend happened, local agencies blamed the pandemic for the increase in speeding infractions and fatalities at the beginning of the second quarter of 2020. 

The NSC reports a higher number of fatalities than those suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The numbers by NSC include deaths that happened on private roads (including parking lots and driveways). The president of NSC says that her organization hasn’t finished its analysis of the causes for the rise in numbers but has said that it’s clear that with fewer cars on the road, risky driving behaviors went up, including failing to wear a seatbelt, driving under the influence, or distracted. 

Why has there been an increase in fatalities even though miles decreased?

Nationally, the number of miles traveled by vehicles had trips to an unprecedented 264.2 billion miles over the first quarter of 2020. However, traffic data showed that average speeds increased and extreme speeding become more common. With the open roads and few drivers, drivers were inclined to practice reckless driving, leading to a sharp increase in fatalities on the road. 

In addition to speeding, the NHTSA found that in the second quarter, there were patterns of individuals driving while impaired and not wearing their seat belts while driving. In April of 2020, the ejection rate was doubled from what it was the previous year. In addition, data released from a study conducted by NHTSA from five trauma centers revealed that between mid-March and mid-July, almost two-thirds of drivers tested positive for at least one active drug, including alcohol, marijuana, or opioids.

Where else has there been a similar pattern?

Unfortunately, there have been other reports in which reckless driving behavior has been witnessed. Analyst Bob Pishue, an analyst with INRIX, a company that analyzes traffic patterns, has noticed that even though roads seem less-congested, you do get fewer collisions. Still, the ones that do happen are more severe. In a report, Pishue found a 31% increase in the fatality rate during the second quarter in the nation’s top 25 metropolitan areas. The key contributor to the deaths was speed. 

Across the country, there have been found similar driving patterns of speeding. Still, Minnesota was the first to alert the Governor Highway Safety Association of an increase in the dangerous trend. In addition, the following are states that reported similar driving trends:

  • California Highway Patrol issued over 2,400 citations for driving more than 100 mph during the first month of the lockdown.
  • Nebraska State Patrol issued 902 citations for driving more than 100 mph through October.
  • As The Wall Street Journal reported, New York City is on its way to record the highest number of traffic deaths since launching a safety initiative back in 2014

What are the potential dangers of speeding? 

Speeding doesn’t just refer to when someone is driving above the speed limit. Speeding includes other behaviors, such as driving too fast when road conditions aren’t the best (for example, driving too fast when it is raining or there is ice). In addition, speeding can include practices of racing with other drivers or other displays of speed. 

Not only do you risk the possibilities of getting a fat ticket or face any criminal consequences, but speeding can create a hazard and danger to other individuals on the road, including:

  • Greater potential of loss of control and steering
  • Increased stopping distance, meaning that it will take you longer to stop the car once the driver perceives a danger on the road. 
  • More possible occurrences of rollovers (especially for higher vehicles like SUVs and trucks)
  • A higher possibility of crash severity of an accident was to occur (a high-speed crash is most likely to result in serious injuries)

How do I deal with speeding drivers?

People speed for several reasons. However, the most prevalent one, and the reason it encourages this behavior more, is that they simply won’t believe that they won’t get caught. Here are a couple of tips if you happen to be on the road at the same time as a speed racer: 

  • Let drivers pass you if they are driving too close to you.
  • Alert authorities when you are safe and have a chance if there is a driver that is posing a danger to other drivers or pedestrians. 
  • Speed drivers are more prone to lose control when they are driving at high velocity. Give speeding drivers more space on both sides as you share the road with them. 

Why do drivers speed? 

In addition to knowing what to do when faced with a speeding driver, it‘s beneficial to know why drivers are more prone to speed. Knowing this may help you avoid these patterns. Here are some reasons why they might speed:

  • Running late: This is the most likely reason someone may pass you abruptly. Make sure that you plan your trip ahead of time to not be in a rush.
  • Road rage: There may be times when drivers may express their anger or frustration through speeding, and other times, making dangerous maneuvers. 
  • Traffic: We all hate the feeling of being “stuck”. After getting through traffic or a car wreck scene, drivers may want to step on the gas pedal, which could lead to another accident. Be mindful before and after any traffic stalls. 
  • Drunk Driving: Driving intoxicated can cause a driver to lose the sense of speed and timing. 

Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we care

Speeding can lead to many unwanted risks and dangers for yourself and others on the road. Depending on the velocity at which you or someone was going, the crash may cause more serious injuries and property damage than other vehicle collisions. If you are in a car accident, it is best to reach out to a car accident attorney who can help you file your claim. Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we are committed to helping you out with your legal needs. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and obtain the justice you deserve.

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