Miner Editorial | Fast and foolish driving is taking a terrible toll

Fewer miles. Less traffic. Safer cars. It sounds like the ingredients for safer highways. But not so fast. Literally, not so fast.

It’s not just COVID-19 that’s taking a toll on Americans since the beginning of the pandemic. We’re dying on highways at a rate not seen in more than a decade, this despite cars with anit-lock braking systems and multiple airbags, and excessive speed is cited as the primary reason why.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 38,680 Americans died on our nation’s highways in 2020, marking the deadliest year since 2007. That’s an increase of 7.2% over 2019, and it comes despite a 13.2% reduction in miles traveled.

Arizona was not immune. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the total number of traffic collisions was below 100,000 for the first time since 1993, but traffic fatalities rose to 1,057, the highest in 12 years.

So, how can fewer miles traveled and fewer crashes result in more deaths? Simply put, it’s been fast and foolish out there. ADOT noted an increase in speed-related crashes, and an increase in deaths of drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts. And the NHTSA cited an increase in driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol as another factor.

“The rise in traffic fatalities last year illustrates that real change must begin in the driver’s seat as driver behavior is a major factor in traffic collisions,” ADOT wrote in a news release.

So, that’s a Clarion call. For Heaven’s sake, slow down, and exhibit some common sense.

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