Extreme Speeding and Fatal Crashes on the Rise During COVID-19

You’ve likely heard how the COVID-19 restrictions have meant decreased traffic and decreased car accidents. While that’s true, there’s been an increase in extreme speed-related incidents, including here in Washington State. Just how fast? Think over 100 miles per hour fast.

Whether the speeding is due to empty roadways, stir-crazy locals, or a combination of both, it’s a dangerous trend that can have devastating impacts. And it may explain why car crash fatalities are on the rise in many places across the country.

The Good News: Less Crashes in Washington

First, some good news. It’s clear that overall crashes for the State of Washington are down in 2020 when compared to trends from the past 10 years (source: WSDOT). With the shelter-in-place orders, this should come as little to no surprise.

In fact, many car insurance companies including Progressive, Geico, and Nationwide have issued rebates to their customers to pass on the savings.

Increase in Triple-Digit Speeding

Despite the good news, there’s been a disturbing trend. Several Metropolitan areas throughout the country, including Seattle, are noting an increase in speeding-related incidents topping 100 mph.

Here’s just a sampling of recent stories out of Western Washington:

Washington State officers are noticing more of these extreme high speeds than normal. While drivers may be tempted to test their limits on traffic-free roads, the fines are stiff. Going 20 over the speed limit can net you a hefty ticket of over $500 for negligent driving. (Not to mention the increase in insurance premiums you may face, negating any rebate.)

Traffic-Related Fatalities not Decreasing

While overall crashes may be down, fatal crashes are not.  In fact, in some areas traffic-related fatalities have skyrocketed since COVID-19.

Ken Kolosh, the National Safety Council’s manager of statistics recently stated, “Per mile traveled, our roads are less safe than they were prior to COVID-19.”

One of the likely suspects for the increase in fatal crashes is speeding and reckless driving.

The Dangers of High Speed

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding is a leading factor in a third of all traffic fatalities. Along with drunk and distracted driving, it is one of the main causes for car crashes.

Wonder what makes speeding so dangerous? Consider the following:

  • You have less control of your vehicle.
  • You’re unable to stop as quickly or make micro-corrections.
  • The protective elements of your car, like your airbags, are less effective at higher speeds.
  • You’re far more likely to suffer severe injuries or death in a high-speed crash.
  • Drivers that speed also tend to engage in other risky driving behaviors, such as not wearing seatbelts.

It really boils down to simple science. The faster you’re going, the more significant the force exerted in the collision.

Handling Speeding Drivers

This is a good reminder to not only watch your speeds, but also watch the speeds of those on the road around you. With the weather turning nice and restrictions beginning to lift, it’s important to remain vigilant.

Here are a few steps to take if you encounter a driver using excess speed:

  • Move over and allow the other driver to pass. Avoid driving in the left lane.
  • Create space for other drivers. Remember, speeding drivers are more likely to lose control or unable to stop safely.
  • Watch for additional aggressive behavior and adjust. For instance, if the driver is tailgating you, try to move out of the way as soon as you can do so.
  • If need be, call the police. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if there is an actively dangerous driver on the road. (Even better if you have a passenger that can make the call.)

Remember, your number one goal is to keep you and your passengers safe. Leave the policing to the police. For more advice, please see our post on handling aggressive drivers. Be prepared before you find yourself in this dangerous situation.

Victims of High-Speed Car Accidents in Washington

Our Tacoma Personal Injury attorneys have handled hundreds of motor vehicle accident claims throughout the years, many of which involved excessive speeds. If you’ve been a victim, please contact our office today. We offer free consultations, so you risk nothing to tell us what happened to you.

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