Highway traffic decreased during the COVID-19 outbreak. But some reckless drivers have chosen to drive at much higher speeds on the less crowded roads, resulting in more fatal car accidents. It’s a continuing trend, says a report published by Autoblog.
The California Highway Patrol has issued more than 15,000 tickets from mid-March through August 19 to drivers clocked at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. The number of tickets represents more than a 100% increase over the same time period a year ago, the Associated Press says. “The most likely explanation is drivers taking advantage of more open roads because of the pandemic, said Officer Ian Hoey, a spokesman for the California agency.”
The same report cites 2,200 tickets issued to speeders in Ohio who were driving more than 100 miles per hour since April, a 61% increase over the same time period a year ago. Similar trends in ticketing have been reported in Pennsylvania and Utah.
“Less traffic has coincided with a rise in speeding in some areas of the country, and that’s a problem because speeding increases the risk of crashes and can increase crash severity as well,” says James Owens, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in a public service announcement.
The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) says approximately 30% of fatal crashes in Kentucky last year involved a speeding or aggressive driver.
In July, the KOHS issued a news release calling for drivers to “Stop Speeding Before it Stops You” as the Commonwealth began to reopen from the pandemic shutdown.
“Too many lives are lost each year in speed-related crashes,” KOHS Acting Executive Director Jason Siwula says in the release. “Whether you are driving a car, truck or motorcycle, we urge you to eliminate all distractions and drive at a safe, legal speed.”
In June, the Lexington Herald-Leader said Kentucky highway fatalities this year were the lowest they have been in five years, thanks to decreased traffic during the COVID-19 shutdown.
COVID-19 Status in Kentucky
As Kentucky re-opens, we need to keep in mind that the coronavirus pandemic is not over in Kentucky or elsewhere in the country.
On September 22, the day our nation’s coronavirus death count topped 200,000, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said there were at least 62,731 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 824 of which were newly reported that day. Gov. Beshear also reported seven new deaths, raising the total to 1,119 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
“Not only do we have more cases than I’d like today – 824, and 134 are kids under 18 – but our positivity rate is back up over 4%,” Beshear said in his daily COVID-19 update.
The positivity rate indicates how widespread infection is in an area where testing is occurring – and whether levels of testing are keeping up with levels of disease transmission, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A high positivity rate means that more testing should probably be done – and suggests that it is not a good time to relax restrictions aimed at reducing coronavirus transmission.
The threshold for a positivity rate that is too high is 5%. The World Health Organization recommended in May that before governments consider reopening a jurisdiction, its positivity rate should remain below 5% for at least two weeks.
A White House Coronavirus Task Force report for Kentucky dated September 20 says in part for the prior week:
- Kentucky is in the yellow zone for test positivity, indicating a rate between 5% and 7.9%, with the 14th highest rate in the country.
- Kentucky is in the orange zone for cases, indicating between 51 and 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week, with the 19th highest rate in the country.
- Kentucky has seen stability in new cases and a decrease in test positivity over the last week.
- The following three counties had the highest number of new cases over the last 3 weeks: Jefferson County, Fayette County and Warren County. These counties represent 37.2% of new cases in Kentucky.
- 56% of all counties in Kentucky have moderate or high levels of community transmission, with 14% having high levels of community transmission (red zone).
100+ MPH Speeding Tickets in Kentucky
Kentucky limits highway speeds to 70 miles per hour on specified sections of some rural interstates and 65 miles per hour on other interstates and parkways. The posted speed limits on state highways is typically 55 miles per hour, and 35 miles per hour on roads in a business or residential district. Local governments may set higher or lower speed limits within their jurisdictions.
For a speeding ticket issued for going 100 mph or more, a driver can expect a fine of $60 to $100, plus court costs, and to have his or her driver’s license suspended. This is typical for speeding 26 mph or more over the posted limit. If the speeding occurred in a highway work zone or in a school zone with lights flashing, the fine will be doubled.
A driver speeding in excess of 100 mph should also expect to be charged with reckless driving, which carries fines ranging from $20 to $100 or more, plus court costs. A reckless driving conviction also adds 3 or 4 points to the individual’s driving record, though this would be waived with suspension of their driver’s license for excessive speeding.
The real danger posed by excessive speeds is the potential for any accident to be fatal. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2018 were crashes in which at least one driver was speeding.
The consequences of speeding include:
- Greater potential for loss of vehicle control
- Reduced effectiveness of seat and shoulder belts, airbags
- Increased stopping distance after the driver perceives a danger
- Increased degree of crash severity, leading to more severe injuries.
You can count on not surviving a collision in a car going 100 mph or more. A person in a vehicle hit by a car going 100 mph would likely suffer fatal injuries, too.
The link between COVID-19, speeding tickets and traffic deaths is a man-made problem. If you encounter a speeding driver, give them plenty of space. Use your best judgment to safely steer your vehicle out of the way.
Kentucky had 111 speeding-related fatalities in 2018, 15% of all fatal crashes in the state, which was the lowest percentage of speeding-related fatalities of any state, according to the NHTSA.
If you or a loved one is injured in an accident caused by a speeding driver, you may be able to hold the negligent driver accountable for your injuries. You should speak to a personal injury lawyer about help recovering compensation for your losses. The Kentucky car accident attorneys of Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer will help you demand the fair compensation you deserve. Contact us online or at (877) 809-5352.