An Open Letter to the Driving Public

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2020 was a year of change in how Americans connect, work, and travel. Many of us are under stress—and understandably so. Unfortunately, the pandemic and the resulting economic dislocations and stay-at-home orders have been accompanied by a sharp increase in risky driving and fatal crashes. 

Most fatal crashes are linked to risky behavior. If you fail to obey the speed limit, to wear your seat belt, and to drive sober, your risk for a crash, and a fatal one at that, goes up. The law enforcement and EMS community across the country have made your road safety a priority—but they are already stretched thin and at risk. Please do not further burden them with your poor driving choices.

Preliminary data tells us that during the national health emergency, fewer Americans drove but those who did took more risks and had more fatal crashes. 

  • One recent report showed a median 22% increase in speeds in select metropolitan areas.
  • Sixty-five percent of drivers in trauma centers after a serious crash tested positive for drugs or alcohol. 
  • In April, double the average number of people were thrown from vehicles during crashes, indicating no seat belts. 

Now, more than ever, we should practice safe driving and encouraging others to do the same.  It’s irresponsible and illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which not only puts your life at risk but the lives of others. Please wear your seat belt—it is the single most effective step you can take to protect yourself in a crash—and make sure your family buckles up and that children are in the right car seat for their size. And please remember that most serious crashes involve excessive speed; speed limits are in place for the safety of all road users.

Driving is a privilege, and with it comes the responsibility of protecting yourself and those around you. Traffic laws and the rules of the road are there to protect all of us. Following the rules of the road makes it much more likely that you will get home safely.

Now is the time to reverse 2020’s terrible trend. The men and women at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are asking every one of our Nation’s drivers to stop taking unnecessary risks on the road. Let’s remember our safe driving practices—you may end up saving a life today.

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