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Speeding increase that began in early days of pandemic has not reversed

A new study shows that drivers began to speed more in the early months of the pandemic, and the behavior has continued pretty much unabated since then. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says drivers in Virginia were 50% more likely to speed at least 10 miles an hour over the limit from March through June 2020, when many people stayed home and traffic on highways was lighter. 

But when traffic bounced back to roughly normal levels, people were still speeding as much as during the early days of the pandemic. The safety group said it compared the Virginia analysis to federal data to show the trends are national. 

Researchers say in Michigan, the tragic result of the speeding is that more people died in car crashes in 2021 than in any year since 2005.

The 1,131 car crash fatalities in 2021 compare to 1,129 deaths in the state in 2005.

In addition, serious injuries jumped 17% in 2021 compared to the year before, and alcohol-involved crash deaths rose 10% in the same period.

IIHS researchers said states should lower speed limits and increase speed enforcement on highways, and design roadways to make it harder to speed.

Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.