A message from Virgil Hawkins, Wright County Highway Engineer/Safe Communities of Wright County Board Member
You may have noticed extra law enforcement on the roads recently. They are working extra speed patrols for those motorists who drive above the speed limit (either posted speed or too fast for conditions). With the reduced traffic the last several months (due to the COVID-19 Pandemic), it would seem the risk of speeding would be reduced. Unfortunately, many drivers have chosen to use the open roads as a license to speed.
Speeding Incidents are on the Rise…
Excessive speeding over the recent months is troubling and requires Minnesotans to commit to slowing down this summer
From April 1 to May 21, the Minnesota State Patrol pulled over 232 drivers traveling more than 100 mph. That’s compared to 93 drivers pulled over during the same period last year – so a 149% increase! Of the 232 drivers, 179 (77%) were 30 years old or younger
Overall fatal crashes and fatalities from March 16 to May 31 increased over last year despite the reduced traffic volumes
While a crash can have more than one contributing factor, speed was the most frequently cited factor
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers a crash to be speeding-related if any driver in the crash was charged with a speeding-related offense or if a police officer indicated that racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit was a contributing factor in the crash.
Summer and Speed – Make the Safe Choice
Drivers who think speeding is not a big deal risk more than just a speeding ticket:
During the 100 most traveled days (Memorial Day to Labor Day) in 2019, preliminary numbers show speed played a role in 31 fatalities
During the 100 most traveled days in the past five years (2015-2019), preliminary numbers show that 125 people lost their lives in speed-related crashes
In 2019, speed was a contributing factor in 26% of single-vehicle crashes
Citations could cost $100 or more, plus court fees
Increased insurance premium costs
A motor vehicle crash involving speed could result in criminal/civil penalties
Higher Speeds, Bigger Problems
Greater potential for loss of vehicle control
Increased stopping distance
Less time for driver response for crash avoidance
Increased crash severity leading to more severe injuries and deaths
If confronted with a speeding/aggressive driver it is recommended to do the following:
Get out of their way, disengage. Move to the right if you are able
Stay calm – reaching your destination is your goal
Do not challenge them
Avoid eye contact
Ignore gestures and don’t return them
Report aggressive/speeding driving (vehicle description, license number, location)
Drivers need to plan trips in advance – allow the time necessary to arrive at your destination safely and on time. The minimal time gained while speeding could have life-long consequences. Consider this – a motorist traveling at 55 miles per hour compared to 45 miles per hour will save only 1 minute and 13 seconds on a 5-mile trip!
Speeding is also tied to aggressive driving, such as tailgating, abrupt lane changes and red-light running. These behaviors are not only unnecessary but speak to a troubling culture on our roads where people put their schedules ahead of everyone else’s safety.
The tragedies that occur because of speeding motorists are simply preventable. These deaths and severe injuries do not have to happen. Help us drive Minnesota towards zero deaths by driving at safe speeds. Remember that the speed limit is either the posted speed or the speed that is safe for conditions (in cases of inclement weather slow down).