Editorial Roundup: It’s not worth dying to get there a little quicker

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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There are different ideas of why it happened, but for whatever reason there has been more speeding, aggressive and reckless driving during and after the pandemic.

The result has been a sobering increase in fatalities.

A story in Sunday’s Free Press noted the number of fatalities in Minnesota has remained high in recent years, and Capt. Jean Cemensky of the State Patrol said much of it has to do with speeding.

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“Never in my career have I seen anything like this,” she said. Cemensky said the number of drivers cited for traveling 100 mph or more has jumped. In 2018, citations for triple-digit speeding totaled 448. By 2021, there were 1,184 citations issued statewide for driving more than 100 mph.

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found some reasons driving got worse during the pandemic. While many people drove less during and after the pandemic, those people tended to be middle-age or older and more of them women. Those categories of drivers tend to be the safest drivers.

But younger males were driving more and they were engaged in more reckless driving more often, such as speeding, going through red lights and texting while behind the wheel.

The study also found that people who already had violent tendencies tended to drive even more aggressively and dangerously during and after the pandemic.

Whatever the reasons, it’s a trend that we need to reverse.

Those involved in the Toward Zero Deaths program note that in 2003 when the program began there were 655 traffic fatalities.

A variety of efforts helped reduce that number to around 400 or less for several years.

But by 2020 fatalities were rising and there were 439 fatalities in 2022.

Fatalities would certainly be even higher if not for safety advancements car manufacturers have made and additional highway safety measures that MnDOT and others have taken when designing and building roads.

While that work is needed, the most important effort is to create a “culture of traffic safety.” We all need to remember that there is a value to ourselves, our families and others on the road by driving more cautiously.

That starts with driving safer speeds, buckling up and staying away from distractions, including the phone.

— The Free Press, Mankato, Feb. 6

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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