A Message from Virgil Hawkins, Wright County Highway Engineer and 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). Minnesotans are excited about more summertime road trips and activities compared to last year, but we’re deeply concerned about a deadly speeding crisis that shows no signs of letting up in 2021.
Speeding incidents are on the Rise…
- When the pandemic began last year in Minnesota, some drivers believed they’d been given a license to speed and were treating the less busy roads like a raceway. Their choices created lasting effects:
- A significant jump in crashes involving a fatality or life-changing injury
- Citation or loss of license that impacted their life and family
- Their choices affected everyone around them
- We’re now halfway through 2021 and traffic volumes are returning to normal, but last year’s deadly pattern continues to accelerate in the wrong direction. The 70 speed-related fatalitiesthrough June 18 compares with:
- 38 in 2020
- 28 in 2019
- 52 in 2018
- 40 in 2017
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 five-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).