EDITORIAL: Speed Week means slow down, be safe

State Police looking to boost safety on roads by flagging speeders, aggressive drivers

Among the skills that may have atrophied during our long period of self-isolation, besides personal conversations and regular showering, is driving.

And if you think you’re going to make up for lost time by fulfilling your need for speed, you might want to think again.

Starting today, State Police will be participating in “Speed Week,” which is just like “Shark Week,” but with cops.

Through next Wednesday, troopers will be on the prowl looking for aggressive and fast drivers, seeking to reduce accidents that lead to thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities in the state each year.

While police will be highly visible in their effort to discourage drivers from speeding and driving aggressively, they’ll also be lurking in traffic in unmarked vehicles. Like a shark, you won’t know they’re there until they catch you.

And it won’t just be speeders. Those officers will also be looking for drowsy, distracted and drunk drivers, seat belt violators and texters.

In addition to drivers violating the regular speed limit, troopers will also be looking for people speeding through construction zones and not obeying the state’s “move-over” law.

In 2018, New York drivers were involved in 701 crashes in work zones on state roads and bridges. That resulted in 13 motorist fatalities and 329 injuries to motorists, contractor employees and state Department of Transportation workers.

Drivers that speed through construction zones are subject to fines of double regular speeding tickets and 3 points on their licenses for going just 1-10 mph over the limit.

The faster you go, the higher the points and fines go.

The move-over law requires drivers, whenever possible, to move over a full lane when they see a police or other emergency vehicle on the side of the road, as well as tow trucks displaying their amber lights, road construction and maintenance crews, and sanitation vehicles. It’s highly recommended that drivers pull over for any vehicle alongside the road, such as a disabled passenger vehicle.

If it’s not safe to move over a full lane, drivers are required to slow down and proceed cautiously. Those who don’t obey the law are subject to fines of up to $150 for a first offense and 2 points on their driver’s license.

Subsequent violations of the move-over law bring higher fines and more points.

It’s been said many times: Speed kills.

Speeding is a contributing factor in nearly one third of all fatal crashes in New York state.

According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research at the University at Albany, 267 people were killed and 17,806 were injured in New York state in speed-related crashes in 2018.

If you’re going somewhere this week and for the rest of the summer, take your time, put down your phone, watch for vehicles by the side of the road, slow down in construction zones, stay sober and look out for your fellow citizens.

If you don’t care about what happens to other drivers, you might at least care about what happens to your own wallet. Stay safe.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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