Since most of the nation experienced some kind of lock-down procedures to encourage social distancing weeks ago, traveling has scaled down significantly. With nowhere to go and jobs now closed or accessible from home, street traffic has nearly come to a halt. However, for the few who want or need to take a drive, there seems to be a growing trend of increased speeding around the nation. With more open roads comes a more open desire to take advantage of the space and relaxed police detail. Multiple news outlets across the country are reporting the same issue: drivers are abusing the open roads with dangerously increased speeds.
Has Speeding Worsened in the Nation?
Unfortunately, speeding has worsened this spring in America. The New York Times has reported an increase in motorcycle gangs, daredevil stunts, and open drag races on main streets of Manhattan. The revving of engines and the loud sounds of speeding have ironically become so commonplace that City Councilman Justin Brannan said the sounds have created “a scary lullaby” for the city. While most people would assume the streets would be quieter due to a lack of work traffic, the noise of vehicular danger is actually heightened in comparison to the disappearance of the usual traffic noise. To highlight the shocking rise in speeding, The New York Times shows 24,765 speeding tickets were issued in March 2020 which is nearly twice the amount of 12,672 tickets that were issued only a month prior in February 2020.
The Daily News recently examined the number of car crashes and fatalities in Minnesota. The number has doubled since a year ago. Additionally, the number of pedestrian fatalities have increased this spring in both Nevada and Rhode Island. Those who are taking advantage of the open roads need to remember that while there is a decrease in vehicles on the road, there is now an increase of pedestrians and bicyclists. It is a trade-off that our nation is experiencing, and the more people refuse to respect that, the more dangerous the roads will continue to be.
Lastly, the Governors Highway Safety Association has reported speeding of 20-40 mph over the speed limit in Iowa and Florida. They also report that Los Angeles has plans to make changes to pedestrian walk signals and traffic lights to aid the growing problem of speed.
Does Florida Have a Speeding Problem?
Yes, Florida also has a speeding problem right now. We are not off the hook. The Tampa Bay Times revealed a speed increase of about 7% in mid-April. Compared to a year ago, the rate of red-light violations has jumped up by two-thirds its previous number. Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter says people forget “traffic congestion is a traffic calming mechanism” and a system of accountability. Instead, drivers are now experiencing “open-road syndrome” and misinterpreting the free space to behave without regard for others or the law.
Many violators are not just going over the speed limit by 5-10 miles an hour. To much dismay, many are going over 100 mph on these roads. Just last month, the Orlando Sentinel described a 37 year-old who was driving 100 mph on East-West Expressway (S.R. 408), which is a 55 mph zone. Such instances have become so common recently that a speed enforcement detail has now been set up on Orlando Expressway. Florida's Highway Patrol Lt. Kim Montes is desperately urging citizens to “please stop speeding.”
Be Mindful of Your Speed
If you find yourself out on the road, please fight the urge to take advantage of the open space. It is understandable that you have been cooped up in the house and may need a bit of an escape, but the roads are not suddenly safe to speed. There is an increase of pedestrian and bicycle traffic. This is not the time to drive haphazardly with daredevil speeds. Not only does speeding increase the intensity of an impact, but you also lose control of your vehicle. It becomes more difficult to avoid an impact at such a high speed, and that is a major fact we all need to keep in mind.
As a final call for us all to drive responsibly, consider these recent facts:
- In Orange County, 157 citations were given for the entire month of April last year. For this year, 130 citations were given in just the first week of April alone.
- The Florida Highway Patrol recorded seven fatal crashes in a span of 36 hours last month.
- The highest citation this spring has been $1,104 for someone who was speeding at 126 mph in a 70 mph zone.
The pandemic of this spring has brought the world together in unprecedented ways. We have been urged to consider each other's needs and health with social distancing practices, but it seems like we now need to consider each other's safety on the roads.