Nationwide shutdowns have left roadways more open than ever before. With fewer commuters and Wisconsin residents staying home, drivers have enjoyed a lack of congestion. With fewer cars, you would expect fewer crashes and fewer deaths, but statistics show otherwise.

In March, Wisconsin’s motor vehicle fatality rate spiked by 14 percent. Similar trends are appearing across the country. Why?

As roadways clear, drivers speed

Drivers are taking advantage of open roadways by increasing their speed. Unfortunately, speeding is one of the top causes of car accident deaths. While drivers feel more confident speeding with fewer cars around, they are increasing their chances of getting into a deadly accident.

In the neighboring state of Minnesota, police pulled over a man who was taking a “joy ride” at 110 mph. California’s highway patrol officers have written approximately 2,500 speeding tickets for drivers going over 100 mph.

Deer season increases the risks

While speeding has increased the vehicle fatality rate, it is not the only threat drivers face. Wisconsin motorists run the greatest risk of being injured in a deer-related accident in May and June. The number of car/deer accidents continue to rise until they peek until the fall. In 2019, there were 18,408 deer/motor vehicle accidents across the state and nine fatalities.

If drivers continue to speed at current rates, Wisconsin drivers could suffer even more deer-related accidents in 2020 and more fatalities.

Slow down, and watch out for reckless drivers

Statistics show that drivers have a false sense of security when they are surrounded by open lanes. Many people are taking the lack of traffic as an invitation to increase their speed. The best thing drivers can do right now is to follow traffic laws – adhere to speed limits, stop at stop signs and be courteous of others. Drivers must be able to depend on one another to keep the roadways safe.