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Slow Down for a Safer Summer

With millions of Americans expected to hit the roads this summer, AAA is encouraging all drivers to slow down, stay alert and, as a result, possibly save a life. After years of declining numbers, roadway fatalities have been climbing since the start of the pandemic, a disturbing trend that mirrors an increase in speeding.

According to recent data released by the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US roadways have become increasingly deadly in the past two years. With fatalities rising at a record pace, state data nationwide suggests speed as a consistently contributing factor. While there are other contributing factors, including impairment and distraction, studies show that more drivers are throwing caution to the wind with tragic consequences.

“I don’t think you need to be a statistician to make this observation,” says Andrew Kaplan, a longtime AAA member. “Whether I am on the highway or driving down Main Street, everyone just seems to be in a hurry. As a father often driving with my children, I find the aggression troubling.”

AAA research has demonstrated time and again that the greater the speed at collision, the greater the risk of serious injury or death. In fact, a crash at 40 miles per hour represents a 15 percent risk of serious injury or worse, while a crash at just over 55 miles per hour represents a startling 78 percent risk of serious injury or worse, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in collaboration with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The increase in fatalities in 2021 includes motorists as well as pedestrians and first responders. Last year, AAA mourned members of its own family when two tow truck drivers lost their lives while working at the roadside. Even though all 50 states have Move Over laws requiring drivers to slow down and move over a lane away from anyone working at the roadside, the deaths of first responders, including police, firefighters, tow truck drivers and construction workers, continues to be cause for alarm.

“I am looking forward to hitting the road this summer, but I would look forward to it more if I thought we were all looking out for each other,” Kaplan says.

AAA is reminding all drivers, whether they’re headed to their neighborhood store or taking off on the Great American Road Trip, to buckle up, observe speed limits, drive defensively and minimize distractions so that everyone who shares the road can enjoy a safer summer.