California has seen a surge in speeding tickets in the past month as traffic has declined statewide due to COVID-19 restrictions, officials said Wednesday.
What We Know:
- Between March 19 – the day the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect – and April 19, citations for speeding more than 100 mph have increased by 87% according to a California Highway Patrol news release. When gathering the data, CHP and the California Office of Traffic Safety found that roads have been 35% emptier than normal during this same time frame.
- During a speed enforcement operation on the 5 Freeway in Southern California last week, CHP officers pulled over 14 drivers traveling more than 100 mph. The fastest was clocked at 119 mph, according to the Highway Patrol.
- “Speeding is dangerous, and you’re going to get yourself killed or kill somebody else,” said CHP Officer Michael Harris. “And that’s what we don’t want to happen.”
“It is alarming to see the number of citations officers are writing for excessive speeds on California roadways.” – CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley
- As speeding increases so do the departments’ worries over the essential workers driving these roads to work, and the Caltrans employees working on them during the pandemic.
- The fact that roads are emptier does not make speeding safe, officials warn. Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin added that driving at excess speeds also puts others at risks, including construction and maintenance crews who are working during the pandemic.
- CHP, Caltrans, and the California Office of Traffic Safety have a joint message to drivers: “Slow down.” Hundreds of electronic highway signs across the state feature safety related messages that read, “If you must travel do not speed” and “Keep essential workers safe do not speed,” according to CHP.
Speeding is against the law.
But the stakes are even higher during #COVID19.
Your highway message signs now:
IF YOU MUST
DO NOT SPEED
— Caltrans HQ (@CaltransHQ) April 22, 2020
- Fraser Shilling, a road ecologist at the University of California, Davis, has been analyzing California’s traffic data during the stay-at-home order. In the first three weeks of the order, compared to the month before, his team found:
- The daily rate of collisions and traffic fatalities and injuries dropped by half.
- Fewer collisions mean the state is saving one billion dollars in response costs.
- Sacramento ERs reported treating roughly 40% fewer trauma victims.
“Please slow down and Be Work Zone Alert.”