MassDOT officials believe that higher speeds, enabled by the lack of traffic on the Commonwealth's streets and highways, may be the biggest culprit in the uptick of roadway violence.
Data from cities that have automated speed limit enforcement cameras, like New York and Chicago, suggest that a higher proportion of drivers are breaking traffic laws during the pandemic.
“Our traffic and safety engineers continuously monitor roadways across the Commonwealth and have identified a dangerous trend that has led to the doubling of the vehicular fatality rate in Massachusetts for the month of April,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver in a press release. “During the pandemic, everyone in the Commonwealth has sacrificed and used disciplined actions to keep themselves, their loved ones, and our community safe. We ask that all residents use this same dedication to safety and reduce their speeds when driving.”
"Empty streets are not a license to drive faster," Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director of WalkBoston, in the same press release. "Please consider every street a shared street and stay safe."
The majority of April's crash victims were either drivers or passengers in motor vehicles, including two motorcyclists.
April also marked the first month when police began writing tickets under the Commonwealth's new hands-free law, which became law in February 2020. Police had previously been issuing warnings under the new law, but started issuing fines for violations on April 1.