Traffic Deaths in the Age of COVID-19 Run the Gamut

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
traffic deaths in the age of covid 19 run the gamut

It’s hard to peruse local headlines these days without stumbling across a post or two detailing recent speeding infractions, with the ticketed drivers apparently taking advantage of traffic-free roads and bargain basement gas to see what dad’s Accord can really do.

It makes sense that some drivers would see a pandemic as an opportunity. Generally, vastly fewer vehicles on the roads leads to fewer deaths on those roads, but that’s definitely not true everywhere.

Take two states as an example. One, Michigan, has driving in its DNA. Interstates aplenty, the home of the Motor City is built on a foundation of cars. According to a spokesperson for the state’s Traffic Crash Reporting Unit, roadway fatalities were down by 30 in the month of March, The Detroit News reports.

That’s the same month the state, and especially the coronavirus hot spot of metro Detroit, went into lockdown to slow the virus’ spread. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order on March 23rd. Year to date, the number of traffic fatalities in Michigan is down 168.

The other side of the coin is Minnesota, where Gov. Tim Walz issued a stay-at-home order affecting businesses on March 16th, later tightening those restrictions. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, fatal crashes in the state doubled after social distancing measures emptied streets and freeways.

“Traffic may be reduced on Minnesota roads during this challenging time, but the number of road fatalities is rising,” the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety said in a statement.

Traffic fatalities between March 16th and Tuesday numbered 24, compared to last year’s 12 and 2018’s 13. The Traffic Office stated that half of the fatalities recorded since the lockdown date could be traced to speeding or reckless driving.

While driving fatalities have spiked, you can’t place the blame for the state’s roadway woes on the bottle. Impaired driving arrests in Minnesota have fallen to nearly a third of the pre-pandemic tally.

[Image: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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  • -Nate -Nate on Apr 12, 2020

    Speaking of crashes..... Saturday I went to get covid-19 tested and after words I was driving South on the Harbor Freeway and where the i5 exit is, two cars were smashed to - gether against the left guardrail ~ it's a sharp curve that's also blind, these two idiots managed to crash and completely block a two lane exit ramp _BEFORE_ the curve.... Special cases I think they were . About the insurance reductions : my company, Farmers sent me an E-mail telling me that they're going to reduce the monthly payment by 25 % ~ yippie . Oh, wait : paying monthly means a big service charge so they're not really giving you much back if anything . I always pay my bills in full as they come in so I never pay interest / service nor carrying charges, basic how to live when you're broke stuff IMO , of course I just sent them checks for my cars, Motocycle and house & earthquake coverage so fuck me I guess =8-^ . Lastly, not all churches / religions are crooked . Many and quite possibly most but I have also known many who were not and helped people instead of bleeding them dry by tithe and endless TV marathons telling you "if you don't send me $ right now I'll die, GOD told me so !" . -Nate

  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Apr 13, 2020

    There are a couple of a$shats with modified Volvo wagons in my neighborhood. They regularly pass my house (on a neighborhood street, speed limit 25) going 50+ mph. Before the virus, they did this only on sunny Sundays. Now they're out tearing it up every single day. Just hope I'm not trying to cross the street with my kids when they come around the blind corner up the block.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.