Too many motorists are driving as if only their own trips matter.

Excessive speeding, which noticeably picked up on emptier roads during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, still continues. State safety officials are understandably concerned. We all should be.

It’s not a new revelation that speed kills. Every driver’s education class covers the subject. Losing control of a speeding vehicle usually has dire consequences, too often claiming the lives of innocent victims who happen to be in the path of an irresponsible driver.

So far in 2021 there have been nearly one-third more traffic fatalities in Minnesota compared to the previous year, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Officials say speed is the biggest factor in deadly crashes, Minnesota Public Radio News reports, and fatal crashes resulting from speeding are up more than 40 percent over last year.

Speeding is an epidemic throughout the state, Mike Hanson, director of the state Office of Traffic Safety, told MPR. Our roads just aren’t designed for ultra-high speeds.

Hanson is a former state trooper and has had plenty of opportunity to see the ill effects of speeders losing control. But he observed that the recent trend seems to illustrate a broader breakdown of civil society. In other words, public be damned — motorists think they have a right to do what they want. It’s not uncommon for troopers to clock motorists driving up to 120 mph.

The problem is that those careless motorists are on public roadways that are paid for by taxpayers. Using them is a privilege that should be respected. There are rules of the road, and taking to the roads with that license in hand means you agree to those rules.

And now that the traffic has returned to more normal volumes, adding excessive speed to the roads is a formula for disaster — lives needlessly lost to selfish drivers who think their trip is the only one that matters.

Don’t be a self-centered motorist. Follow the speed limits. Slow down when conditions call for it. Protect your own life, as well as the lives of others on the road.

On its website, the Department of Public Safety runs a ticker of the names of people who have so far died in traffic crashes this year. Do your part to not add any names to that list.

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