California’s 700 electronic highway signs will soon issue a simple warning: “If you must travel, do not speed”—advice that has been utterly ignored since the state first issued stay-at-home orders in March. With the Golden State’s spacious highways being free of traffic for the first time in years, drivers have taken to the streets with a lead foot and a need for speed. Now police are claiming drivers aren’t just going places in a hurry—they’re actually doing so in a reckless manner—and they have the data to back it up.
On Tuesday, the California Highway Patrol revealed that it had begun issuing an alarming number of citations for speeders traveling at more than 100 miles per hour. During the one month period from March 19 (when stay-at-home orders went into effect) to April 19, CHP claims that it wrote 2,439 tickets to drivers reaching triple-digit speeds, an 87 percent uptick compared to the 1,335 during the same period in 2019.
One driver, in particular, reveals the LA Times, was even arrested and charged with speeding, reckless driving, and driving without a license after an officer clocked his Chevrolet Camaro traveling at 165 mph.
“It is alarming to see the number of citations officers are writing for excessive speeds on California roadways,” said CHP Warren Stanley in a statement. “Higher speeds can lead to much more serious injuries and significantly increase the chance of death should a crash occur.”
Statistics provided by the California Department of Transportation might help to explain something we already know: highways have less traffic. Compared to the same month-long stretch in 2019, Caltrans says that traffic on state roads has declined roughly 35 percent, meaning that drivers may feel the itch to bury the pedal on the open road.
An increase in speeders amid the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t exclusive to California. Data obtained from New York speed cameras provide a secondary benchmark with similar data, noting an enlarged number of speeders captured on empty roads in the weeks following stay-at-home orders.
Let’s remember that there’s a time and place for everything—save that speed for the track, and if you have the opportunity to go for a drive, use a little bit of restrain. Remember, our hospitals are already crowded an dour first responders are dealing with a heck of a lot right now. Don’t add to it. Instead, live vicariously behind the wheel of an $8k simulator.
Got a tip? Send us a note: [email protected]