Nearly three weeks ago, as stay-at-home orders were put in place in about half of U.S. states, there were reports from around the country that as the amount of traffic on the roads declined, the number of people speeding was increasing. That pattern has continued and yesterday the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) put out a press release about a “severe spike in speeding” around the country.
Emptier streets may be encouraging some drivers to flout traffic safety laws, including speed limits. Despite there being far fewer vehicles on the road due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, state highway safety officials across the country are seeing a severe spike in speeding. Many states have reported alarming speed increases, with some noting a significant surge in vehicles clocked at 100 mph or more.
CNN highlighted this local news report from Cedar Rapids, Iowa which was published yesterday:
Over the last 30 days, the state patrol says it has clocked 167 drivers going more than 100 miles per hour…
“Some people think we are not out there, and we are and we’re giving quite a few more tickets because of it,” he said.
This March, the State Patrol issued 103 speeding citations for people going over 100 miles per hour compared to 64 last March. April of last year, they issued 65. So far this April, they’re already at 64 – only halfway through the month.
And the same trend is happening in Oklahoma:
DANGEROUS TREND: The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says while there’s less drivers on the roads, more people are breaking the law.
Troopers say they’ve clocked more drivers speeding during the pandemic.
— Haley Hughey (@haleyhughey) April 17, 2020
And in Orange County, CA:
In just four hours, 102 tickets were issued by officers in Orange County along the 5 Freeway with a top speed of 103 miles per hour. https://t.co/jJ0rMQVU6X
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) April 16, 2020
And according to a report published yesterday by the NY Times, New York is starting to resemble a Fast & Furious movie:
As traffic has disappeared from New York’s streets during the coronavirus pandemic, some drivers have responded by revving their engines and taking off. The open streets have also brought out motorcycle gangs and daredevils on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles doing wheelies and stunts in traffic lanes, residents said.
“Now that the streets are empty, the Fast & Furious wannabes really think they’re living in a video game,” tweeted City Councilman Justin Brannan, a Democrat who represents southwest Brooklyn, adding that the sounds of racing cars and motorcycles on the Belt Parkway in Bay Ridge “have become a scary lullaby.”
Even with fewer cars on the streets, the city’s automated speeding cameras have issued almost twice as many speeding tickets daily.
CBS reports this is happening all around the country with traffic deaths up in some areas even though traffic on the roads is way down.
In Minnesota, traffic deaths have more than doubled. Virginia state troopers caught a driver doing 111 mph on Interstate 95, usually one of the most gridlocked roads in the country.
New York City saw speed camera tickets in March more than double. In Memphis, a driver was seen in a video hitting 127 mph…
“We just recently had a speed over 150 mph,” said CHP Officer John Fransen.
Fransen said in the Bay Area alone, coronavirus hasn’t stopped officers from writing 100 more tickets than usual for these extreme speeds.
Police departments are posting speeding citations on the internet. This one involved someone doing 105 mph, nearly double the limit:
Our west side deputy caught a driver going 105 in a 55 on Hwy. 30 on 4/5. Our patrol lieutenant clocked drivers at 92, 95 and 97 on I-84 E. at Fairview in a 20 minute period around 10am this morning. #SLOWDOWNSAVELIVES pic.twitter.com/gbv48AkIVw
— Multnomah Co. Sheriff’s Office (@MultCoSO) April 10, 2020
In Georgia, someone on a motorcycle passed a speed trap at 172 mpg. A sergeant with the Sandy Springs PD told a local news outlet, “Because it was a motorcycle and traveling at those speeds, our officer couldn’t even attempt to go after it. He didn’t have a chance.”
With less traffic on our roads, some are using it as an opportunity to drive recklessly. This picture illustrates someone w/no regard for his own life or the life of others. Our officers will continue to enforce speed limit laws to prevent crashes with serious injuries or death. pic.twitter.com/l7UuIJHrFk
— Sandy Springs Police (@SandySprings_PD) April 16, 2020
Here’s a local news report from southern California which says the worst offenders are from where I live in Orange County.
Update: There are several more local reports like this about a surge of speeders. Here’s one from Utah.
And here’s one from Colorado.
And Kansas City:
And North Carolina:
This is happening everywhere.