As most of us were stuck at home for much of 2020, it turns out that others were out burning up the highways across New Mexico. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), law enforcement officials across the country saw a spike in speeding in the early weeks of the pandemic, particularly in speeds over 100mph. Whether the cause of these high speeds was the empty roads, pent-up anger and frustration, or just people needing to get somewhere very fast, the unsurprising result was an increase in traffic fatalities.
2020 Saw the Highest Number of Traffic Deaths in 13 Years
According to the National Safety Council, Americans drove about 13 percent fewer miles in 2020 than they did in 2019 due to the pandemic. Despite this, nearly 43,000 people lost their lives in auto accidents, an increase of 8 percent and the highest death toll since 2007. Factoring the number of deaths relative to miles driven, that equates to a 24 percent increase in road deaths in a 12-month period—the highest jump in 96 years. In addition, an estimated 4.8 million people were seriously injured in crashes in the same time period.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Those are a lot of numbers, but what does it really mean? For one thing, what had been a downward trend of injuries and deaths has suddenly spiked, undoing a great deal of progress in road safety. The increase also means that thousands of people lost their lives for no reason other than someone’s recklessness. In a year of so much loss, this was an added tragedy. Regardless of how many other people are on the road or how much stress you are under, it is never o.k. to drive at reckless speeds and endanger the lives of others.
How Speeding Causes Crashes
Speed limits are set to optimize safety based on roadway conditions, traffic levels, and pedestrian activity. When a driver chooses to exceed the speed limit, they put others in danger. That danger is multiplied the faster they drive above the speed limit. Common causes of high-speed crashes include:
- Driving too fast for conditions. Roads that run through downtown areas and neighborhoods or that are curvy, narrow, or hilly have lower speed limits because the environment makes higher speeds unsafe. When a driver speeds around a corner, for example, they will likely cross over into the oncoming lane.
- Presence of pedestrians and cyclists. Speed limits are lower in school zones, residential areas, and downtowns because people are crossing streets and using bike lanes. A speeding driver might not see the pedestrians and bikers, putting them at risk of serious injury or death.
- Passing slower cars. Speeding through heavy traffic involves weaving back and forth between lanes. These dangerous maneuvers cause crashes when the speeding driver misjudges distances or slams on their brakes.
- Loss of control. When a driver reaches speeds of 100 mph, they can easily lose control of their vehicle and run off the road, slam into another car, or even flip over. These high-speed crashes are often fatal.
- Less time to react. The faster someone is driving, the less time they have to see and react to an obstacle in the road, another car, a traffic signal, or a pedestrian.
Speeding is a factor in a majority of crashes, even if the primary cause is something else—like drunk or distracted driving. When a driver maintains a safe speed, most accidents can be avoided.
If a Speeder Caused Your Injuries, Contact Us ASAP
If you were injured or a loved one was killed by a speeding driver, you can hold them accountable for their reckless and negligent actions. Our car accident attorneys in New Mexico will investigate the crash and go after the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get you the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages, pain & suffering, and other losses. Contact us as soon as possible so we can get to work fighting for your recovery.