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Rate Of Deadly Crashes In Massachusetts Doubled In April, Despite 50% Less Traffic

BOSTON (CBS) - Traffic in Massachusetts is down, but deadly crashes are not. Last month the rate of traffic deaths went up by an estimated 50%. Transportation officials are pleading with drivers to slow down and pay attention.

Case in point, two teenagers were killed in a crash in Wellesley at the end of April, two of 28 people who died on Massachusetts roads last month including three pedestrians and one cyclist.

"This past month we saw a pretty disturbing trend in the way people have been driving," said Jonathan Gulliver, the state's Highway Administrator. "Our preliminary numbers indicate our fatality rate doubled in the month of April."

During April of last year, there were 27 traffic deaths. This year there were 28, but since traffic is down about 50% in the state, you'd expect the death rate to drop about the same amount. But clearly it didn't. "Speed and distraction is cited in many of those," Gulliver said.

We all know our normally congested roadways have been a breeze to navigate since the Covid quarantine, maybe too much of a breeze.

"It really is an urgent matter to address. We want to make sure that people don't try to take advantage of the current level of traffic, and try to get to where they're going faster," Gulliver said. "The last thing we want is to have everybody sacrifice so much these last two months, and then have a death on the highway because they're driving recklessly."

State Police began a speed reduction initiative across the state on April 25. Since then, extra patrols have written 271 citations and issued 111 warnings for speeding. Troopers said some drivers they encountered were traveling at extremely high speeds, some over 100 mph.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Monday the city will set up speed traps if necessary.

MassDOT said other states that normally have the same traffic congestion problems are experiencing a similar increase in the fatality rate.

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