It feels like so many drivers are in a constant rush these days, but that’s no excuse to ignore the posted speed limits.
Traffic safety laws exist so our children can walk to school safely. So that pedestrians and cyclists don’t have to take their lives in their hands. So other drivers make it to their destinations in one piece and unharmed.
Nothing is so important that it warrants putting others at risk. Traffic congestion, long lights, distractions, aggressive behavior, and acts of reciprocation — none of these are a valid excuse for causing an accident, or worse, taking the life of another person.
Speeding is an epidemic that impacts everyone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2020, speeding was responsible for the deaths of 11,258 people across the country, some 29 percent of all traffic fatalities that year.
Yet on any given day in suburban communities like ours here on Long Island, people will hit the gas in order to whiz through traffic lights and intersections at 20 mph or more over the speed limit.
Police tend to enforce moving violations based on routine observations, tips from neighbors, and patrolling known hot spots and problem areas with higher traffic accident numbers.
Directing patrols to certain roadways certainly has its benefits, but it also comes with challenges. On some major thruways where there is a lot of traffic, it’s not easy to check speeding. Many of these roadways are narrow, making it difficult for police to pull anyone over to the side of the road.
While the data indicates there has been an increase in the volume of motorists cutting through side streets and residential areas thanks to directions they get with GPS tracking systems like Waze, police understand that this is a major issue that they do not take lightly.
The most common requests from residents of busy streets are for speed bumps or stop signs, which aren’t always possible because of state law. Crosswalks and turn signals can also be problematic on thoroughfares too narrow to accommodate them.
Cameras have been shown to work in addressing speeders, but some question whether they are intended for safety, or as another way to raise money. In a matter of months at one point, Nassau County issued more than 400,000 traffic tickets, raising $32 million from the fines alone.
One — albeit less favorable — solution could be for local police to implement a ticketing blitz. The fear of being issued a hefty moving violation would certainly make those wishing to turn local streets into their own personal racetracks think twice about it. And simply by seeing an increase in enforcement, drivers will react by slowing down.
Another alternative is to consider hiring traffic engineers. Since many roadways shift among local, county and state jurisdiction, having one person designated to address the flow of traffic through a community could be a real asset. It would also provide residents with an advocate when it comes to issues like long waits at traffic lights, and illegal turns that can also prompt people to rush.
At the end of the day, everyone needs to play a part in order to make our communities safer. Be aware of your speed. Slow down when you feel you’re going too fast. Stay alert, and always keep your cool at the wheel.
Let others drivers pass, and give them plenty of space. Take extra precautions when driving in inclement weather or at night. If a driver is following or harassing you, contact the police immediately.