How do you drive when no one's looking?

May 24, 2021

Here's the thing about the gas pedal in your car: You can control how hard you press down on it. And if you press down on it too hard, it's easy to lose control of the car and harder to stop, resulting in a crash and injury or even death.

It's a big problem that started last year when traffic volumes were down, and these facts are playing out with distressing efficiency again so far this year: As of May 24, preliminary reports show 59 speed-related deaths in Minnesota in 2021. Compare that to 30 speed-related deaths reported over the same time period last year, and you can see the brutal toll speeding is taking on Minnesotans.

It's a freeway, not a raceway. Drive Smart!If the speeding continues, it'll contribute to an overall traffic fatality rate this year that Minnesota hasn't seen in more than 15 years. An estimated 563 people could lose their lives in traffic crashes this year if the pace continues. There hasn't been that much loss of life on Minnesota roads since 2004 when 567 people were killed in crashes.

Before you think these are just statistics, remember that each person who dies in a speed-related crash is someone's child, parent, sibling or friend. One was a 52-year-old motorcyclist not wearing a helmet. He was driving 60 mph in a 40 mph zone on a Stearns County road. He ran off the road at a curve and hit mailboxes and a fence. Another was a 29-year-old driver going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. He ran off a Cass County road, hit an embankment, and overturned multiple times.

For a week in May, State Patrol districts, working with sheriff's offices and police departments all over Minnesota, dedicated specific days and regions to extra high-visibility speed patrols. On weekdays from May 12 through 19, law enforcement issued a total of 1,241 citations – that averages to about 207 per day. A speed citation typically costs a driver more than $110 for going just 10 mph over the speed limit, and that doubles for 20 mph over. Driving 100 mph or more can cause a driver to lose their license for six months. So hopefully, those 1,241 drivers cited for speeding will think twice before they speed from now on.

But you should drive the speed limit whether there are extra speed patrols out or not (and by the way, law enforcement is always looking for speeders). Sure, the thought of getting caught speeding and hit with the accompanying expenses should be a deterrent. But ultimately, you have to ask yourself: Do you care enough about yourself and the adults and children you share the road with to drive the speed limit? In other words, do you drive the speed limit even when no one's looking—both because it's the law, and because it's the right thing to do?

Slow down. Obey the speed limit.

Anything else just isn't worth it.