Speeding (literally) through the pandemic
Do you remember when you used to drive to work and then home again? You would get back on the road to do errands or meet friends for a meal? Life was normal and most driving was somewhat predictable. Well, slam on those breaks for the pandemic.
At first when the state issued stay at home orders for many, except certain segments of essential employees, a trip around the city seemed like you were in a ghost town. There were so few cars on the road it was eerie in a way. There was no such thing as rush hour. But then – a vehicle would flash by you at warp speed like it was a UFO.
With open lanes and more room on the road, a fast and reckless pattern of driving showed up on our roads. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, crashes in general have been down this past summer with lower travel, but severe and fatal crashes are up significantly – especially those that have speed as the contributing factor. There are four recorded incidents with speed at 130 miles per hour. Some drivers also have a perception that law enforcement is too busy working with other issues and aren’t paying attention to traffic control, which is not true.
Julie Philbrook, Hennepin Healthcare’s Trauma Prevention Program Coordinator, knows all about trauma and patterns in the Twin Cities. “Historically, the summer months are the busiest days for our level one trauma center. The summer has been deemed the 100 deadliest days on our roads. While there may be more car crashes on a snowy day, most are minor with more damage to the car then the occupants. Life threatening injuries and deaths from motor vehicle crashes happen most often on warm sunny days.
This year, with lower traffic volumes, we are seeing more speed-related crashes. Other factors are distractions like cell phones, lack of seat belt use, and impairment from drugs and alcohol. So, while we are remembering to stay healthy by social distancing, practicing good hand hygiene and wearing masks, don’t forget while on the roads to slow down, buckle up, pay attention and drive sober.”
Julie Philbrook, RN, DNP, MAN, MAL is the Trauma Prevention Program Coordinator at Hennepin Healthcare