Speed can kill and statistics from 2020 indicate that it likely took more than the usual number of lives in Michigan last year.

Michigan State Police report that preliminary numbers show 1,032 people died from crashes on Michigan roads in 2020, while the number was 985 in 2019. Those statistics are quite surprising considering traffic volumes were down as much as 60 percent in the weeks immediately following COVID-19 stay-home advisories in March. There were about 20 percent fewer vehicles on Michigan roads through the rest of the year. Experts believe that reduced congestion enticed many drivers to speed and more statistics would suggest that is true. State Police say their troopers wrote 69 percent more tickets in 2020 for excessive speeding. That’s defined as 25 miles per hour or more over the limit.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in a normal year speed is a contributing factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes.

Besides the loss of life or causing serious injury, speed-related crashes cost the country about $52 billion each year, the agency reports.

Although age-related statistics aren’t readily available for pandemic times, studies show that prior to 2020 teen drivers and passengers (16-19 years of age) comprised the greatest proportion of speed-related fatalities compared to all other age groups—43 percent vs. 30 percent.

A study funded by The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in partnership with Ford Motor Company Fund, noted that between 2015-2019, 4,930 teen drivers and passengers died in speeding-related crashes.

Please do what you can to drive safely on local roads, regardless of traffic volumes, and model the proper behavior behind the wheel so that the next generation of drivers can learn what it takes to be responsible too.