SALT LAKE CITY — Utah highway troopers say they’re seeing a surge in excessive speeding — in some instances, 100 mph and over.
On Monday, police in St. George arrested a man riding a motorcycle and flying down the road at 135 mph. A week earlier, troopers pulled over a woman in Millard County driving a scorching 125 mph.
Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic discussed excessive speeding during the COVID-19 pandemic and why it’s happening.
Having commuted into work since the beginning of the pandemic, Debbie said she’s noticed freeways and interstates starting to clog with cars.
“Every day I drive I feel there’s more and more people in my way,” she said.
“With nowhere to go, why is everyone in such a hurry to get there?” said Dave.
According to Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Nick Street, in 2020, 2,730 motorists were stopped going at least 100 mph. And that was only from the beginning of the year through July 22. That number is nearly 700 more than those reported from the same time last year, according to the Deseret News.
What drives speeding?
Several factors contribute to an overall rise in aggressive driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Frustration over traffic congestion.
“Traffic congestion is one of the most frequently mentioned contributing factors to aggressive driving, such as speeding,” according to the NHTSA. It says that drivers become aggressive toward anyone or anything they believe is impeding their progress.
“We’re more important than anyone else so you speed out of the traffic jam,” Debbie said.
2. Running late. Motorists drive aggressively when they are late for work and have too much to do.
“I cannot be late for my hair appointment. So you turn $100 hair appointment into a trip to jail,” Debbie said.
“Shielded from the outside environment, a driver can develop a sense of detachment, as if an observer of their surroundings, rather than a participant,” said the NHTSA.
“It’s not just speeding, but the way we react to people,” Dave said. “We would never be the jerk to somebody in a restaurant that we are on the freeways. . . . This is my sweet grandmother. How is she waving one finger at this person.”
Debbie asked Dave if he ever tailgates another car because he’s frustrated.
“Too many years covering news. I am the most defensive driver. I’ve seen too many scary accidents,” he said.
Debbie, though, admitted that she will tailgate people “when I get a little frustrated.”
She also confessed to speeding, but “it’s not 100 miles an hour.”
“When you’re driving over 100 [mph] that is almost just begging to get caught,” said Dave.
The fourth factor behind speeding, Debbie pointed out, is disregard for others and the law.
The better news is that some motorists never drive aggressively, for most, it is rare. For others, however, aggressive driving is frequent. And for a very few, aggressive driving is their normal driving behavior.
In 2018, the NHTSA reported that 9,378 people in the U.S. lost their lives in speeding-related accidents (noting, also, that 2018 numbers had decreased from the year before.)
According to the NHTSA:
Occasional episodes of aggressive driving – such as speeding and changing lanes abruptly – might occur in response to specific situations, like when the driver is late for an important appointment, but is not the driver’s normal behavior.
If it seems that there are more cases of rude and outrageous behavior on the road now than in the past, the observation is correct — if for no other reason than there are more drivers driving more miles on the same roads than ever before.
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