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Empty roads still demand full driver attention

A car that was driven into a home in Quincy is towed away on May 13.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled many of us to be cautious when venturing outside, but it seems that that sense of caution goes out the window once we get behind the wheel.

New data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation found that while traffic has declined by about 50 percent across the state in recent months, the fatal crash rate has doubled (“Fatalities are up as traffic is down,” Metro, May 5). According to investigators, speeding and distracted driving are the primary contributors to this increase. This aligns with recent reports from many other cities of increased instances of reckless driving, which can place an unnecessary burden on already-strained local health systems and first responders. It is particularly worrying to see this increase in Massachusetts, a state that had the fewest fatalities in the country per 100 million miles traveled in 2018.


While the coronavirus has posed a new threat to all of us, we cannot let our guard down when it comes to existing dangers such as driving. With nearly 40,000 people killed on our roadways each year, responsible driving should never take a back seat to carefree behavior — during a pandemic or otherwise.

Kelly Nantel

Vice president, roadway practice

National Safety Council

Itasca, Ill.