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State: Traffic numbers collapse, but fatality rate increases, so stop driving like a maniac

MassDOT reported this morning that Massachusetts recorded 28 traffic fatalities last month, up from 27 last year, even though there are now 50% fewer cars on the road due to people staying at home because of coronavirus concerns.

Combined, the two numbers mean the state's traffic-fatality rate in April was twice that of April, 2019. Officials say the explanation is simple: With fewer cars around, many of the remaining drivers are opening up the throttle.

Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said:

Our traffic and safety engineers continuously monitor roadways across the Commonwealth and have identified a dangerous trend that has led to the doubling of the vehicular fatality rate in Massachusetts for the month of April. During the pandemic, everyone in the Commonwealth has sacrificed and used disciplined actions to keep themselves, their loved ones, and our community safe. We ask that all residents use this same dedication to safety and reduce their speeds when driving.

Jeff Larason, director of highway safety for the Executive Office of Safety and Security, added:

Reduced traffic volume is no excuse for excessive speed. We're reminding everyone to drive responsibly, wear a seat belt, and watch the road for cyclists and pedestrians.

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Comments

The kids on dirt bikes in Dorchester are more out of control than ever.

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Adam, do you have a link to this report? Thanks!!

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Here's a link. I'l add to the original post.

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Just a general sense of lawlessness on the streets these days -- from drivers disregarding speed limits and stop signs (even more than usual) to an apparent uptick in street crimes, stabbings, shootings, etc. Is it just because the law-abiding people are staying home and abandoning the streets to the lawbreakers? Is alcohol use way up? Are narcotics harder to find or more expensive? Is law enforcement shorthanded due to illness? If/when this is all behind us, there will be so much fodder for sociologists to study about our reactions.

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Come out at night

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I call my nightly promenade my "vampire walk."

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The "eyes on the street" effect on crime is well documented, so it makes sense that with having so many businesses forcibly closed (and thus no customers coming and going) opportunities for crime would abound. To say nothing of the large number of newly idled young people who may previously have been employed.

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... is also impeded by the 9 to 6 “voluntary” curfew.

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Absolute maniacs on the road. When I go out to deliver food to seniors I try to be cautious and go the speed limit etc for my own safety but also not to tip over bags etc. I constantly have people flying around me, yelling, horns , lights , so much anger.

I ended up on the highway the other day and that was nerve racking too. I mean legit , quite a few people must have been going 100. At times it kind of felt like Nascar.

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In normal times, if I go to work really early, people will drive aggressively on a simple state highway because there are fewer obstacles, otherwise known as cars.

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In Los Angeles, people are used to being stuck in traffic.. now the CHP is having a hard time with all the 100+ mph drivers

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Exactly, thats what the highway was like. Being inside the 128 loop in Boston, it is not often you can go that fast so it is crazy out there.

Side streets too because you have people blasting down roads BUT others have become used to empty streets so I find pedestrians and joggers are much less attentive then normal. So you have someone rammed up your bumper because you are going about the speed limit if not a little above but then you get random people darting in front of you... so you jerk to a stop but the guy behind you is going insane....

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It's almost like road safety has less to do with cyclists or pedestrians not being careful enough, and more about drivers being irresponsible while operating dangerous machinery. Maybe, just maybe - the answer is to build safer infrastructure that protects humans even if it slows down cars? And maybe we need to consider improving alternatives to transportation other than personal cars?

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But muh car!

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Put on your sneakers and walk, 'murikan!

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The bigger problem is people who drive in a panic every time they leave the house. It has calmed down a bit over the past few weeks but people have been driving like they were being chased by a tidal wave.

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I've definitely seen faster than usual driving in my neighborhood. The combination of drivers driving more carelessly and more children playing outside is terrifying.

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I was on 128 north in Wakefield going about 70 in the center lane and several cards whizzed by me on the right. The open roads are definitely bringing out some jerks.

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So, when did you move over to the right?

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Even if you’re speeding yourself. Ha!

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Ummm, law-abiding drivers.

If the aggressive idiots are going around you illegally, if you can't/won't keep up with the aggressive idiot traffic - you actually have an obligation to get out of the way (to let them go be idiots) by getting into a slower lane as soon as safely possible.
You don't have the right to hold a lane against aggressive idiots behind you because you've decided what the "correct" lane and speed are and damn the rest. By definition, that's aggressive driving just like the speeding, tailgating, right-passing jerk behind you.

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If your going 20 mph over the speed limit in the middle lane, you don’t need to move over to the right lane. Those going 30-40 mph over in the right lane are being super reckless versus semi reckless and are at fault.

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At fault or at least more at fault, yes.

But you can still be written up. I'm sure the trooper will be very interested in your opinion.

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The clerks or judges will. Don’t have my traffic book with me, but pretty sure you can travel the speed limit in the middle lane?

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duplicate

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... that I relish the lack of noise, exhaust, Uber/Lyft drivers and traffic jams. It’s heavenly!

Then there are the absolutely terrifying moments when some homicidal maniac comes speeding by. Also probably relishing the wide open space that they see as their own private race track.

I have been emailing my city councilors and the mayor asking to please take immediate action to
put temporary and permanent traffic calming measures in place. I urge everyone with concerns who hasn’t already done so to please contact their representatives.

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One Month of Data being compared to a month of data from last year without any supporting information.

For example:

  1. This April was cool and wet [record low high temperature for the month going back to 1872] -- how did this kind of month compare with last April or similar Aprils in the past decade.
  2. What about accidents versus fatalities -- Were people just driving a bit faster during the commute times and hence an accident which caused moderate injuries at 37 mph became fatal at 66 mph
  3. What about when most of the fatal accidents occurred -- anything else different?
  4. how about the last decade of April's any trends in accidents and / or fatalities ?
  5. etc
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Tickets for driving 100+ mph spiked in April

In March 2019, April 2019 and March 2020, police cited motorists for exceeding 100 mph in about 1.1% of all speeding cases, according to preliminary Registry of Motor Vehicles data.

That rate jumped to 7.3% in April 2020.

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You will see a pickup this month in enforcement, maybe a lot of warnings (I’d love to see this numbers in general).

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