ROADWAYS BECAME SPEEDWAYS UPON ONSET OF PANDEMIC
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some drivers took advantage of roads and highways emptied by the coronavirus pandemic by pushing well past the speed limit, a trend that continues even as states try to get back to normal.
The Iowa State Patrol recorded a 101% increase from January through August over the four-year average in tickets for speeds exceeding 100 mph, along with a 75% increase in tickets for speeds of 25 mph or more over the posted speed limit.
California Highway Patrol officers issued more than 15,000 tickets from mid-March through Aug. 19 for speeds exceeding 100 mph, more than a 100% increase over the same time period a year ago. That includes a continuing spike from May on.
The most likely explanation is drivers taking advantage of more open roads because of the pandemic, said Officer Ian Hoey, a spokesman for the California agency.
The patrol planned a heavy presence over the Labor Day weekend, he said.
“Let’s just slow down a bit and enjoy the day!” the agency’s Santa Rosa division tweeted June 21, along with a photo of a laser speed device recording a car going 127 mph.
In Ohio, state troopers have issued 2,200 tickets since April for driving more than 100 mph, a 61% increase over the same time period a year ago. The highest ticketed speed was 147 mph in the Cincinnati area.
While traffic has decreased 15% from February through July, the number of people driving more than 80 mph on Ohio roads jumped by 30%, according to sensor data analyzed by the state Department of Transportation.
Columbus resident Karen Poltor experienced the trend firsthand last month when three cars raced past her on state Route 315, an expressway through the city.
“They were flying in the left lane and weaving around cars,” said Poltor, who estimated their speed at between 90 and 100 mph. “It was terrifying to watch.”