The pandemic brought faster vehicle speeds and more crashes; is automated enforcement one answer?

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On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, conversations with two people about the ongoing surge in highway speeds that began with the pandemic in early 2020 and the resulting rise in crash deaths.

First, author and columnist Helaine Olen talks about observations in her Washington Post column this week about the spike in reckless driving and traffic fatalities. Also discussed is the decline in seat belt use during the pandemic.

Olen writes that in the United States, “we’ve long failed to take road safety as seriously as we should. The results are predictably tragic: The United States leads the developed world in traffic-related deaths, with more than double the rate of any other country.”

She also talks about why her column underscores the need to use the word "crash" instead of "accident," as discussed previously on the podcast.

Later, Pamela Fischer, senior director of external engagement at the Washington D.C.-based Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), offers her organization’s perspective on the problem and how automated traffic enforcement could stem the tide. She and a colleague penned an Op-Ed earlier this year that touched on the topic.

A bill introduced in the Michigan Legislature in August would allow speeding enforcement by camera in communities where leaders have expressed concerns about excessive speeds.

Some other relevant links:

Research on automated enforcement by the National Conference of State Legislatures:

GHSA data on speed and red light cameras nationally:

GHSA Releases Independent Recommendations to Advance Equity in Traffic Safety Programs:

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