People have been stuck inside more often during stay-at-home orders, and it seems that when they do get out, they are viewing fewer drivers on the road as an invitation to be reckless.
Though overall crash rates have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Illinois and nationally, another trend has emerged: speeding tickets are on the rise, as are injuries in crashes, likely related to speeding.
How speeding decreases safety
Speeding not only increases the likelihood of an accident, it also increases the accident’s severity.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 9,378 people were killed in speeding-related accidents in 2018. It has been a factor in about one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities from the last 20 years.
Speed limits are created to provide an indication of what rate of speed will keep drivers and others safe given the type of roadway. Even driving the speed limit can be unsafe if bad weather, road construction or lack of light are factors.
The NHTSA also notes that speeding creates a greater potential for loss of control, reduces the effectiveness of a vehicle’s protection equipment, and increases the stopping distance required once a driver determines braking is necessary.
Indications of increased speeding in Chicagoland
In Chicago, as in several of areas of the country, there are some indications that more people are driving too fast. The city reported a 14% increase in the number of speeding tickets generated by automated cameras in speeding zones near parks over a four-week period from late March to mid-April, compared to a similar period in 2019.
Another indication of reckless driving is a slight increase in injury crashes in Cook County, as reported by the Illinois State Police. In addition to icy conditions, police also said vehicles driving too fast contributed to the April 15 60-car pile-up on the Kennedy Expressway.
Local officials noted that fewer cars on the road can increase a driver’s impulse to drive at higher speeds, and they advised drivers to remember the importance of driving safely during the pandemic – fewer injury accidents allow hospitals more capacity to care for coronavirus patients.
While fewer people are on the road, there are indications that more of those who are driving are opting to speed. Keep this in mind when you are on the road for essential business by watching your own speedometer and giving speeding cars a wide berth.