COVID-19 Impacts on Speed and Safety for Minnesota Roads and Work Zones

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  09/27/2021

Summary:

Reduced traffic volumes resulting from COVID-19, along with the strain on enforcement during the pandemic, are thought to have produced higher speeds and more aggressive driving. Understanding the magnitude of speeding and other driver behaviors requires measurement and contrast. This project quantifies reductions in volume and the resulting differences in travel speeds across Minnesota along regular roads and within two work zones prior to and during the novel COVID-19 pandemic. The work includes a review of total crashes as well as fatal and serious injury crashes and includes a survey of law enforcement opinions. Findings based on 125 Automatic Traffic Recorders (ATR) and traffic Sensors quantify volume reductions, which, of course, were lower in 2020 but which varied considerably by location and month. Average speeds overall along with both the number and percentage of vehicles traveling greater than 15 mph over the posted speed limit increased in 2020. This information supports benchmarking and agency decision making.

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