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Speeding Increases on American Roadways During Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic has completely altered our state of life. From shutting down in-person events to limiting dining experiences and forcing work-from-home situations, our daily lives are no longer the same. With these changes, fewer motorists are on the roads and highways are seeing further volume decreases. Surprisingly, these decreases in motor travel have led to an increased rate of speeding tickets. Additionally, the driving fatality rate has increased since last year.

Why is there More Speeding?

The higher levels of speeding can be attributed to many different factors. First, there may be some motorists who are driving in an emergency situation. Driving a COVID-19 patient to the emergency room may be quicker and more cost-effective than calling an ambulance. While most speeding tickets are probably not related to coronavirus, this is one possibility.

Another factor may be herd mentality on the road. Motorists often keep up with the flow of traffic. If there are enough cars traveling above the speed limit, motorists are more likely to speed.   

To that point, seeing an open road may prompt people to drive faster. With a less-crowded road, there may be a perception that it is safer to speed. Additionally, some drivers may enjoy pushing their engines to the limit on the highway.

Finally, driving may be a recreational activity for many Americans. There’s a certain freedom associated with driving and exploring the landscape. In a world where activities are restricted due to a pandemic, driving may be one of the least fun activities left. Speeding risks may provide the excitement people are lacking during the pandemic. Consequently, speed limits are a mere second thought.


Unfortunately, these increases in speeding violations coincide with higher rates of motorist fatalities. A March 2020 report from the National Safety Council (NSC) states there was a 14 percent increase in fatality rates per mile driven since March 2019. This year’s March mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles was 1.22, compared to March 2019’s 1.07. Although both total deaths and vehicle miles are down compared to last year, deaths are occurring at a much higher rate. With this danger, law enforcement may target speed violators.

Now that fewer people are on the road, cops may have different standards for handing out speeding tickets. Officers may attempt to ramp up ticketing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In addition to potential criminal speeding charges, speeding also makes the roads more dangerous for all drivers. All drivers are at risk of getting in an accident, but that danger increases when around reckless drivers,” said Attorney Tyson Mutrux of Mutrux Firm Injury Lawyers.

COVID-19 has shown interesting trends regarding rider behavior and self-perceived safety.

As the nation returns to a “new normal,” expect motor traffic volume to increase and the speeding incidents rate to decrease. Hopefully, driving death rates will decrease as well.

As more Americans are getting back on the road, remember to be mindful of others’ safety and follow all traffic rules. Doing so can prevent accidents and help save a life.