Lighter traffic isn’t a green light to treat public roadways as race tracks.
Despite a significant drop in traffic at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota unfortunately is seeing a record number of excessive speeders and speeding-related fatalities.
Reckless driving is becoming the norm for too many motorists who are using roads as a recreational option.
In May a 21-year-old driver was clocked at 132 mph on Interstate 90 west of Fairmont. That’s nearly double the speed limit. A 33-year-old man was cited for driving 127 mph on Highway 169 in Le Sueur County in August.
In the Mankato region, speeding citations issued by the State Patrol for those driving more than 110 mph grew from 23 in 2019 to 48 from January to November of both years.
And those drivers in our region are not the only ones making poor choices. Citations issued by the State Patrol for driving more than 100 mph doubled in 2020 compared to the year before.
The obvious risk is that drivers can easily lose control of vehicles while traveling at excessive speeds, endangering themselves and other motorists. Here’s the evidence: 117 speed-related fatalities in Minnesota occurred in 2020 as of Dec. 30. The average since 2010 has been 86.
Driving may be something to do to relieve boredom and stress when the pandemic has reduced social opportunities and impacted employment, but it still needs to be done lawfully. Driving on public roadways is transportation not entertainment, no matter what the motive is for doing it.
Not adjusting for conditions or ignoring the fact you don’t control your surroundings — other traffic, black ice, animals crossing — ignores the rules that every driver learns to pass the license test.
The pandemic shouldn’t be an excuse for others to take life for granted and behave irresponsibly. Think of the cruel irony of a 73-year-old motorist escaping the virus only to be killed in a head-on crash with a speeding driver.