As Minnesotans state-wide hunker down at home to help curb the spread of coronavirus, the scenic Minnesota roadways stand wide open. Traffic rates are down 50% across the state as fewer people take their morning commute.
These traffic-free highways are too tempting for many Minnesota thrill-seekers. Though traffic is down, the rate of fatal crashes is up. Reckless drivers are taking advantage of these open roads to push their vehicles to dangerous speeds, and at the cost of Minnesota lives.
Increase in reckless driving across the country
As of April 9, 2020, reckless speeders claimed the lives of 28 people in Minnesota. During this same period in 2019, police recorded 13 traffic fatalities — an increase of over 50%. At a time when public health is of the greatest concern, Minnesota’s Office of Traffic Safety director, Mike Hanson, laments these figures. He claims these crashes are diverting medical resources away from treating patients with COVID-19, putting unnecessary strain on the already overworked medical community.
Police across the country fight more of these reckless speeders daily. In Austin, TX, March crashes are down from 450 in 2019 to 381 this year, but fatalities climbed from 99 to 111. Ohio saw a 93% drop in speeding citations since March 23, but police issued 53% more tickets for speeding violations over 100 mph. In Georgia, a motorcycle traveling 173 mph eluded police entirely — there was simply no way they could catch the speeder.
Police report that many drivers act surprised when they get pulled over, incorrectly believing that police will not enforce speed limits during the pandemic. Based on the dangers these speeders present, catching them is perhaps more important than ever.
Speeding is a factor in over 30% of traffic fatalities nationwide. Only drunk driving accounts for more vehicular deaths.
Legal recourse for victims
Victims of reckless drivers have found success in securing damages by working with a local attorney familiar with Minnesota vehicle law. A lawyer can help families dealing with the aftermath of a devastating crash assess a potential liability claim and work through insurance paperwork.