When roads seem empty, drivers often feel tempted to step on the gas. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, speeding in the U.S. has reached a new, more dangerous level. News reports show that in states across the nation, law enforcement agencies have reported an extreme increase in speeding tickets over the past several months. While this trend has most likely resulted from the pandemic, it might have safety implications well into the future.
Speeding Ticket Trends During Coronavirus Pandemic
Across the U.S., state patrol officers have issued dramatically high numbers of speeding tickets during the coronavirus pandemic. These tickets are not only high in volume, but they also record extremely high speeds – many of them exceeding 100 miles per hour.
In Iowa, the state patrol saw a 101% increase in 100+ MPH speeding tickets between January and August 2020, compared to the four-year average. At the same time, Iowa experienced a 75% increase in tickets for driving more than 25 MPH faster than the speed limit.
Meanwhile, from mid-March to mid-August of this year, the California Highway Patrol issued more than 15,000 tickets to drivers who were traveling faster than 100 MPH. This was more than double last year’s number for the same type of speeding tickets issued during these months in California. In a similar vein, since April 2020, Ohio state troopers have noted a 61% increase in 100+ MPH tickets over last year’s numbers.
This nationwide increase in speeding has correlated with a spike in traffic deaths. In July, 154 people died in car accidents in Ohio. This marks a high for that state since 2007. In Vermont, there have been more than twice as many traffic deaths this year than at the same time last year.
These alarming trends appear to be closely tied to the pandemic. As roads and highways emptied in the early days of quarantine, drivers felt emboldened to speed more than usual. Moreover, a sense of lessened traffic patrol on highways early in the pandemic might have further encouraged new speeding habits.
Unfortunately, these risky habits might prove hard to break. Even as traffic has returned to U.S. highways in recent months, drivers have not slowed down. Speeding continues to be prevalent in many states, posing an ongoing risk to everyone on the road.
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