As the coronavirus pandemic continues and the hold on opening the Massachusetts economy has decreased traffic on state roadways, there has been an increase in automobile crash fatalities. Officials with AAA Northeast say that speed and distraction are the likely factors contributing to the surge. They say that even though there has been a 50 percent decline in traffic from last April, due primarily the pandemic, the fatality rate on the state roadways doubled last month.
AAA is advising motorists to try to slow down when hitting the highways. Check out the full press release below...

AAA Advises Motorists to Curb Their Speed in the Wake of Alarming Massachusetts Traffic Fatality Data for April

As Massachusetts drivers encounter open roads and light traffic in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, AAA Northeast is urging people to slow down and resist the urge to speed.

According to a MassDOT report released by on Monday, despite a 50 percent year-over-year decline in traffic volume in April, the fatality rate on Massachusetts roads doubled last month as compared to April 2019. Officials say speed and distraction were likely factors in most of these crashes. And it’s not only highway drivers who are dying—two thirds of the fatalities occurred on smaller roads, and victims include pedestrians and a cyclist.

“This is something that’s impacting Main Street as much as the Interstate, and we’re seeing an-across-the-board uptick in speeding,” says MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Driving conditions have changed for a lot of people. We are not used to the open road and tempted to go as fast as possible.”

Speeding increases the risk of a drivers losing control of their vehicles as well as the severity of any collision, especially when pedestrians are involved. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research, speeding is a factor in roughly a third of all traffic fatalities across the U.S. every year.

And when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, the risk of dying increases dramatically the faster the vehicle is going. AAA research shows that the risk of death for a pedestrian is 10 percent at an impact speed of 23 mph. At 32 mph, it increases to 25 percent, and at 42 mph, there’s a 50 percent chance a pedestrian will not survive.

With schools closed and stay-at-home orders in effect, many people are taking to the streets on foot and bicycles, especially with the return of sunshine and spring-like temperatures. That’s just one reason why AAA Northeast is urging motorists to avoid speeding and distractions during these challenging times.

“During a time when everyone’s mantra is ‘stay safe,’ let’s apply that thinking to our roadways,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs at AAA Northeast. “And with first responders and hospital workers already taxed to the limit, don’t add to the numbers by driving recklessly and endangering yourself and others.”

Speeding increases the risk of a crash because you have less time to react while driving. It takes about 1 second for most drivers to react, and our reaction times don’t increase with our speed. And speeding won’t save you much time, either. Driving 75 mph instead of 65mph will save less than 4 minutes during a 30-mile drive, assuming perfect driving conditions. Arriving a few minutes earlier is not worth any loss of life. The priority is to reach your destination safely, not quickly.