Despite fewer vehicles on the road, experts expecting increase in crashes due to speeding

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With the holiday weekend coming up, traffic safety experts fear we’ll see a growing number of car crashes as the result of speeding because they say despite the fact that fewer people are on the road speeding is increasing.

You’ve probably seen it on any highway you’ve traveled on during the last few months — people flying by you at excessive speeds.

It’s not just an occasional thing. It’s happening a lot in North Carolina and around the country, partly because of the way the pandemic has limited traffic on our roads.

During the height of the lock down, we saw roads with very little traffic but there were drivers who took advantage of those traffic-free roads to push their speeds well above the limit.

“We’re seeing increases in speed 20, 30, 40 miles an hour above the posted limit,” said Pam Shadel Fischer of Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

That’s resulted in exponential increases in crashes according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. The agency is so concerned it’s put together a report called ‘Speeding Away from Zero’ which looks at the problem and possible solutions.

Since the stay at home order was instituted the North Carolina Highway Patrol has issued almost 62,926 speeding tickets.

  • 18,577 were issued for speeds between 1-15 miles over the limit
  • 32,317 for speeds between 16 and 25 miles over the limit
  • 12,032 citations for speeds 25 miles or more over the limit

Those numbers dropped significantly between March and April during the height of the lock-down then bounced back again in May as things started to open up again.

Fischer it’s a combination of things that has lead to the increase in speeding during this pandemic.

“First there are folks who are just going to speed,” she said. “Then there’s here’s some pent up frustration going on as well.”

With more people now on bikes and walking, there are more people vulnerable to injury if struck by a speeding driver.

“The faster rate you are going, the longer it takes to stop,” she said.

Fischer says North Carolina is the 13th worst in the nation when it comes to speeding deaths.

One-third of the people who die in your state were speeding,” she said.

With cookouts, parties and alcohol consumption traditional on a July 4th holiday weekend, there is concern about how that will impact speeding accidents and deaths.

“Drivers who are drinking and impaired are more likely to be speeding,” she said.

With the holiday weekend comes increased traffic and officials are hoping that the heavier traffic volumes will actually work to temporarily push down the numbers of speeding drivers—but they won’t know for sure if that works until after the holiday ends.

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