While Connecticut residents have been spending an unprecedented amount of time at home recently thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic fatalities have risen sharply. New data recently published shows that while traffic density in the state has been sliced in half, fatalities are up a surprising 40%.
Is COVID-19 Creating Reckless Drivers?
Police have speculated that an increase in reckless driving may explain this recent jump in traffic fatalities. In a recent ABC News report, Connecticut State Police Trooper Josue Dorelus said “we’re finding that with the open roads, certain individuals are taking this as an opportunity to push their vehicles to the limit.”
Dorelus told ABC that the number of drivers traveling at least 15 mph over the speed limit has increased by 90% during the pandemic. With fewer cars on the roads, aggressive drivers are turning state highways into their personal Autobahns.
“Some people might be feeling cooped up and think of it as a stress relief,” said traffic safety advocate Cathy Chase in an interview with ABC News. “Some people may have wanted to do this their whole lives and now they see the roads have opened up a bit and they’re taking advantage of the situation.”
Connecticut isn’t the only state affected — California state troopers issued 2,500 citations for traveling more than 100 mph from mid-March to mid-April, representing an 87% increase from the same time period in 2019. In Minnesota, traffic fatalities have more than doubled. Experts note that accidents involving cars or trucks moving at this rate of speed are vastly more likely to prove fatal.
The problem has gotten bad enough that the Governors Highway Safety Association issued a national advisory urging drivers to rein in their speeding.
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