Speeding incidents increase as weather gets better


GVL Archives

Adam Trombley

The COVID-19 pandemic seems like it has slowed down many parts of our lives, but it certainly has not slowed down the speeding incidents throughout the United States. The death toll of motor vehicle accidents has increased as the number of drivers going faster on the roads has increased.

Even in Grand Valley State University’s community, the Grand Valley Police Department noticed that speeding has become a much more habitual thing during the pandemic. 

“Obviously, the weather in the past week has gotten much better,” said GVPD Capt. Jeffrey Stoll. “But with the reduction of hazards associated with snow, ice, and rain, it clearly seemed to be reflective in the driving approach from people going pretty fast.”

Over the weekend, GVPD cited three people for going 65 mph on West Campus Drive, and two others were cited going 40 mph on North Campus Drive by the archway. This was surprising to Stoll when he heard of the speeds because it was 20 mph over the speed limit on West Campus Dr. and 15 mph over the speed limit on North Campus Dr.

Stoll said that speeds tend to shift as the winter weather goes away. Although the shift from year to year is nothing new, he said the increase in speeding throughout the United States is concerning.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California had an 87% spike in citations handed out for people driving over 100 mph between the months of March and April of last year. This coincides with the story from the Washington Post where Minnesota had 42 people killed in traffic collisions in the first 45-day span of the stay-at-home-order. This spike was alarming considering there were 16 more deaths during that stretch last year than there were in 2019. 

Stoll says that because GVSU’s Allendale Campus is relatively small, the idea of people going faster on the roads can be very dangerous and will ultimately only save them around 15-20 seconds. Going high speeds can also cause you to have a substantial financial penalty brought against you.

“You have a dangerous risk when driving to yourself, for others, for the community, and also a financial risk associated with the possible penalty associated with speed,” said Stoll.

While giving tickets comes at the discretion of the officer, if someone has had enough violations and points added to their license, the state may restrict or suspend your license. In Michigan, the cost for low-level violations can range from $105-$135. 

Most of the accidents the GVPD sees around the community that relates to speeding are the rear-ending of vehicles. The ticket for this is an extension of the speed law in which a person is issued a ticket for failing to stop an assured clear distance. Stoll said it is the responsibility of the drivers to give themselves enough time and space to stop when the person in front of them stops. 

Being aware of your surroundings and knowing the speed limits in the area you are in is important said Stoll, and throughout his time with the GVPD, he has heard many different excuses as to why people were speeding. 

“Some will say they didn’t know what the speed limit was, some will say they didn’t realize they were going that fast, some will say that they were in a hurry because they were late for something,” Stoll said. “It’s unfortunate that people are putting themselves in that position.” 

Stoll said the fastest speeds he has seen down Pierce Street is in the 80s and around 110 mph on Lake Michigan Drive. 

Stoll said that people are good at slowing down due to winter conditions, but it is important that people know that they have the responsibility to themselves and others to be safe while driving as the spring months approach.