By KENZIE TERPSTRA
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan has the ninth-lowest rate of speeding-related fatal crashes in the country, according to a recent study.
Heninger Garrison Davis, a personal injury and business litigation law firm based in New York, Alabama and Georgia, analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine which states have the highest proportion of fatal crashes involving speed.
In Michigan, 11.57% of all fatal crashes involved speed in 2021 – 33.34% lower than the national average.
Idaho had the lowest proportion of fatalities in crashes involving speed with a rate of 4.1%. Wyoming had the highest at 28.43%.
Michigan neighbor Indiana ranked seventh-lowest at 7.18%. Ohio ranked 23rd lowest at 17.23% and Wisconsin landed at No. 25 with a rate of 18.01%.
“Speeding is one of those things that we look at every day as ground patrol,” said 1st Lt. Michael Shaw, the State Police public information officer for the district covering Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
Shaw said the State Police has a two-pronged approach to reducing driving speed.
“We talk about education often, pointing out risky driving behaviors that we see in our roadways,” Shaw said. “That doesn’t always work, so there always is enforcement as well.”
Shaw said that the State Police concentrate on eliminating risky behaviors such as distracted and impaired driving, red-light turning and speeding.
Katie Bower, the director of the state Office of Highway Safety Planning, said the office contributes funding for law enforcement agencies to put towards enforcement efforts.
“Just having law enforcement visible on the roadways is a huge deterrent to speeding,” Bower said.
Last year, there were 22,700 reported crashes involving a speeding driver in the state, and 223 people died in crashes involving speed, according to the highway safety agency.
Bower said speed-related crashes happen most often on non-interstate roads, especially rural roads.
According to data released earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 87% of speeding-related traffic fatalities occurred on non-interstate roadways in 2021.
Shaw said, “We’re seeing people driving in the triple digits – 100 miles an hour in a 55 speed limit area. These people don’t have the training necessary to drive at speeds like that, and they’re more likely to cause fatal traffic crashes by doing it.”
Bower said the use of digital speed limit signs showing drivers their speed has helped reduce speeding throughout the state.
Additionally, infrastructure plays a key role in reducing excessive speed.
“The Department of Transportation is working on roundabouts,” Bower said. “Roundabouts have been proven to be one of the infrastructure ideas that slow people down.”
The most common factors leading to speed-related deaths, according to Bower, are risky behaviors and failure to account for poor road conditions.