With most of the country sheltering in place to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic, traffic rates dropped significantly. Without those daily commutes, New Hampshire itself saw a 50% drop in all traffic since Governor Chris Sununu issued the stay at home order. These open roads present an enticing opportunity for many of New England’s driving enthusiasts, but with deadly consequences.
Mirroring a dangerous trend across America, New Hampshire police report a significant increase in traffic fatalities in 2020. Reckless drivers are taking advantage of the empty roads, bucking respect for the law and life for a brief thrill.
Traffic deaths reverse the 2019 trend
Since January 1 of 2020, 34 people lost their lives in a traffic accident in New Hampshire. Compared to the 19 deaths in 2019, the 70% increase disturbs lawmakers and police. Eight pedestrians count among the dead, representing a 166% increase since last year. Police report these deaths coincide with an increase in excessive speeding.
Police across the country report similar trends. Traffic is down 50% in Minnesota, but fatalities doubled. In neighboring Massachusetts, troopers issued 37 citations for speeding on May 13 alone — police issued two tickets for speeding over 100 mph and 17 for more than 90 mph. Ohio authorities issued 93% fewer tickets in general, but a 53% increase in violations over 100 mph. In Georgia, state troopers reportedly had to let a motorcycle speeding at 173 mph go free — their vehicles had no hope of catching the bike. In early May 2020, New Hampshire lost a 23-year-old woman riding passenger on a motorcycle when the operator lost control and hit a UPS truck.
New Hampshire Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said, “Everyone in the Commonwealth has sacrificed and used disciplined actions to keep … our community safe. We ask that all residents use this same dedication to safety and reduce their speeds when driving.”
Legal recourse can help secure restitution
Families devastated by reckless driving have found restitution working with a local attorney familiar with New Hampshire vehicle law. A lawyer can help coordinate with police and sort through the necessary insurance paperwork while grieving families focus on recovery and healing.