An Echo Press Editorial: Take the pedal off the metal
By the Echo Press Editorial Board
Practically every driver is guilty of speeding every now and then. They might drive five or 10 miles over the limit, hoping to make up for some lost time.
And then there are those who brazenly break the law and don’t seem to care how many lives they’re putting at risk, including their own and everyone in their vehicle.
These are the extreme speeders.
They’re more common than you may think. During an extra speed enforcement wave during the month of July, 37 agencies in Minnesota reported catching at least one speeder who was going 100 miles per hour or more. The top five worst speeders ranged from 127 miles per hour all the way up to 140 mph.
Our area isn’t immune to extreme speeders. During that speeding crackdown, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office caught one driver going 112 miles per hour. It would be interesting to know just how important it was for that driver to be going that fast. Let’s hope he or she loses their license for a while and has plenty of time to contemplate that.
Speeding in general is still too common on our roadways in Minnesota.
During the crackdown, law enforcement from 300 agencies across the state cited 18,983 drivers for speed violations. The Alexandria Police Department issued 45 citations and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office issued 52.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety offered some examples of traffic stops law enforcement encountered during the month-long campaign:
- Cambridge Police stopped a 19-year-old nanny with kids in the car for driving 94 mph in a 65 mph zone. She stated she was trying to figure out the cruise control.
- Eagan police stopped two cars racing at 103 mph in a 50 mph zone. One driver was arrested for DWI.
- A Foley police officer cited the same person twice just an hour apart for speed.
- Troopers in the Golden Valley District pulled over a 16-year-old driving on a learners permit for going 110 mph. His parents were called to the scene.
- Troopers clocked a vehicle going 86 mph. As they got behind the driver she increased speeds to 110 mph. The 23-year-old said she thought the trooper was a vehicle trying to race her.
The speeding problem is not slowing down. This year, State Patrol troopers have cited 52,889 drivers for speeding through Aug. 1, compared with 52,397 tickets written at this time last year. A total of 715 motorists were caught driving 100 mph or more. A glimmer of good news – that number is down compared to 754 last year.
The phrase “speed kills” is all too real. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety:
- In 2021, 166 motorists died in speed-related crashes (preliminary), the most since 2003 (195).
- During the 100 deadliest days (the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day) in the past five years, 2017-2021, preliminary numbers show that 196 people lost their lives in speed-related crashes.
- Speed contributed to an average of 113 deaths per year from 2017-2021.
It’s pretty simple. If you reduce your speed, you reduce your chances of getting into a crash. The department said that sticking to the speed limit gives the driver more control over their vehicle; allows the driver to respond more quickly to road situations; and decreases the severity of the impact during a crash.
Here’s another tip from the department: Give yourself room. Motorists should keep a three-second following distance to allow for safe stopping and reaction to other vehicles.
Remember, it takes more than the length of a football field to stop when traveling at 60 mph.
If the threat of getting into a crash doesn’t motivate drivers to slow down, maybe this will: Speeding can be a costly choice. The cost of a speeding violation varies by county, but it will typically cost a driver more than $110 with court fees for traveling 10 mph over the limit. Fines double for those speeding 20 mph over the limit and drivers can lose their license for six months for going 100 mph or more.
Follow the advice from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety: Take the pedal off the metal.