Detroit's struggle with reckless drivers features prominently in today's Free Press with a 3,000-word story highlighting the dangers they pose and checking in on a ticketing campaign and speed hump program the city hopes will make a difference.
Every week in Detroit, two people die in motor vehicle accidents and another two are critically injured, according to an analysis of Detroit police records. With too few cops to enforce the law, residents view the speed humps as their only solution — though getting them hasn't been easy for many and the speed demons aren't letting up.
According to the Department of Public Works, the city has 17,124 applications for speed humps that, to date, have not been approved — all while police are issuing traffic tickets by the thousands. This year alone — and with four months left to go — more than 83,500 tickets for traffic violations have been issued in Detroit, a 50% increase from five years ago. The bulk of these tickets are for reckless driving and speeding.
Meanwhile, the number of speed humps in the city has exploded since they were introduced in a pilot program three years ago: From 32 in 2018 to 4,500 this year. And another 700 were just announced a week ago. That's quadruple the number from last year.
At least three Detroit children, ages 4-9, have been killed in wrongway, head-on or and hit-and-run crashes since March.
The problem has reportedly gotten worse during the pandemic.
"It’s the worst I’ve seen. And everybody is a witness to this," (Wayne County Prosecutor Kym) Worthy said. "Drag racing. Speeding. Drunk driving. Dangerous driving. Everybody can identify with it."
Worthy believes the pandemic may have fueled the speeding crisis.
"When the state shut down, (drivers) figured the roads were open and they could do what they wanted to do," Worthy said.
This is not unique to Detroit.
Nationwide, an estimated 38,680 people died in car crashes in 2020 — a 7.2% increase from the previous year, despite fewer cars on the road because of the pandemic that kept most people home. Michigan saw the same trend: 1,083 people died in car crashes in 2020 — a 10% increase from the year before, and the highest number of deaths since 2007.
In comparison, Oakland and Macomb counties saw a slight drop in fatal car accidents in 2020, while Wayne County saw a significant increase: 252 people were killed in car accidents in 2020, compared with 166 the year before — a nearly 52% percent increase.