“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” In all seriousness at this point, I would take lions and tigers and bears. Especially now that I have been thoroughly educated about tigers after having watched all torturous episodes of Tiger King. COVID-19 is well, self-explanatory. We have been in it for months, are still in it and it has now become our new, very scary, reality. But now, just as we have come to terms with our “new reality”, I hear the whispers of this whole murder bee business (a hornet but bee sounds better). But like any good American I slap on some negative attribution and tell myself, “That will never happen to me” and I move on. Problem solved. I write this article not to add another layer on the blanket of anxiety that we already have, but to remind you to simply not forget about the everyday, statistically higher dangers, that already exist.
You may have noticed that when you went out on the roads to do your essential business in the last three months, that our roadways have been much less busy, if not entirely empty. The assumption is that there would be far fewer speeding tickets, car crashes and car crash-related injuries. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) wrote 4,015 tickets in February 2020. But in March, the number of tickets rose to 4,585, in April 4,383 tickets were issued 4,383 and as of May 18th, 4,551 tickets had already been issued. Keep in mind that the number of speeding tickets issued has risen when traffic in Colorado according to CSP, at its lowest, was down 70%. These speeding tickets were not just the run of the mill speeding tickets. In March and April, more than 2,800 tickets were issued for drivers going more than 20 mph over the speed limit. We all know that speed kills. In the first four months of 2019, CSP recorded 6,550 car crashes compared to 9,602 in the first four months of 2020. The number of car crash-related injuries spiked from 2019 to 2020 as well.
These increases are not just specific to Colorado. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, police in Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, and Utah have clocked drivers going more than 100 miles per hour on highways. In Los Angeles, cars were going as much as 30% faster on some streets, prompting changes to traffic lights and pedestrian walk signals. In New York City, automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets on March 27th — nearly double the number issued daily a month earlier — despite a significant decrease in cars being on the road. Car crashes and related deaths in Minnesota for example are more than double what they were at the same time in previous years, and half of the deaths were due to speeding or careless/negligent driving. This has been a nationwide problem.
The natural question to ask is why would speeding not only increase, but increase to such Fast & Furious speeds? Apparently, it is as simple as “the need for speed” when presented with empty roads. For certain drivers, when pulling onto an empty roadway, it is as if they have suddenly been transported to their own Autobahn and they take the moment to put the petal to the metal. While it is hard for me to identify with this feeling, I know it is real. My husband is a car enthusiast to say the least. He likes to race but race on an actual racetrack. It is truly a passion for him. I have only ever known him to be safe on the road but every now and then I see the urge. It is when he is merging onto a highway and that merge lane is clear, something takes over. For about 5 seconds he is on that racetrack and then I give him the inevitable side-eye and just like that, the dream is over. He slows down, he merges into traffic and we begin to fight over the song on the radio.
So, what is my message here? It is to simply continue to be vigilant on the road. Though we have been and continue to be in this pandemic, please do not forget that statistically speaking, speeding, distracted driving and car crashes are an epidemic in this country. Lastly, though it sounds boring as all get out, please do check your automobile insurance policy, and make sure you have adequate coverage. Those that choose to drive 100 mph on our roadways with our families are typically the same people that drive with little to no insurance. Those people typically have nothing to lose but you do.