One more time: Fewer people on the roads but more fatal crashes. Why?

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On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a followup to previous conversations about why fatal crashes have increased despite traffic volumes declining substantially during the pandemic.

Following up on previous episodes featuring a number of Michigan experts on the topic, this week’s conversation features a perspective from a neighboring state. Michael Hanson, director of Minnesota’s Office of Traffic Safety, joins the podcast after an interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. (Kudos to Hanson for emphasizing driver responsibility and why these are crashes and not “accidents.”)

Preliminary numbers indicate 1,032 people died from crashes on Michigan roads in 2020, while the number was 985 in 2019. This, despite traffic volumes being down as much as 60 percent in the weeks immediately following stay-home advisories from the outbreak and remaining down around 20 percent through the rest of the year.

With many fewer vehicles on the roads and reduced congestion, Hanson echoes the analysis of other experts about eye-popping speeds.

Hanson also talks about what law enforcement officers are seeing in Minnesota, which mirrors observations from law enforcement officers in Michigan.

In Minnesota, Hanson talks about the axiom that speed kills and says authorities are tackling the problem with some creative initiatives.

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