Speed Limit Sign

A 70-mile-per-hour speed limit sign on Interstate 81 outside Bristol.

On Saturday, the Virginia State Police (VSP) shared a staggering post on its Facebook page. A state trooper recently pulled over a driver on Interstate 95 in Fairfax County. The person was clocked at 124 miles per hour (MPH) in a 55 MPH zone.

That alleged perpetrator was not alone. On Sunday, another post detailed how eight drivers were pulled over Saturday evening for traveling more than 100 MPH.

“An open road is NOT an open invitation to speed,” VSP said in the Saturday post.

Since March 30, Virginians have adapted to the abnormalities of a government-issued stay-at-home order. To curb the spread of COVID-19, we’ve incorporated new terms such as “essential services” and “social distancing” into our daily routines. But here’s a longtime safety principle that needs to be reinforced: If you have to leave home, please slow down.

Since the commonwealth’s COVID-19 stay-at-home orders went into effect, fewer vehicles are on the road. According to WTVR-TV, a recent Science Museum of Virginia study estimated passenger car traffic in the Richmond area is down 40% to 50% on average.

The lower volume of cars also has resulted in fewer accidents in the region. As of April 21, the museum’s study found 282 crashes were reported in March of this year. That’s a steep decline from 515 in March 2018 and 506 in March 2019.

But more room on the road also leaves openings for trouble. VSP said that from March 13—when Gov. Ralph Northam first declared a state of emergency—through April 22, 47% of all fatal crashes on Virginia roads were due to speed.

In the past two weeks, that disturbing trend has continued. According to an April 24 report from WRIC-TV, an 18-year-old woman hydroplaned and lost control of her GMC van on Interstate 95 in Chesterfield County. She hit the jersey barrier of the roadway and ended up in the left lane. A 23-year-old driver of a Chevrolet Impala collided with her. He died at the scene, and VSP said speed was considered as a factor.

These tragedies can be prevented. Unlike a virus, speeding is a visible danger. And there already is a proven solution to stop these deaths: the brake pedal.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

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