Police reported a sharp increase in speeding violations as drivers took advantage of empty roads during the coronavirus pandemic, a habit that has not faded as states try to resume a sense of normalcy.
Reports from different states indicate that the problem was not an isolated one.
In Iowa, police reported a 101% increase during the first six months of the year over the four-year average in tickets for speeds exceeding 100 mph, with a 75% increase in tickets for speeds in excess of 25 mph over the posted speed limit.
Pennsylvania State troopers pull over vehicles on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Breezewood, Pa. Police around the country are reporting that as roads and highways emptied during the pandemic, some remaining drivers took advantage by pushing well past the speed limit. It’s a trend that statistics show is continuing even as states reopen. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
California Highway Patrol officers issued more than 15,000 tickets from mid-March for speeds exceeding 100 mph, an over 100% increase during the same period in 2019.
Ohio state troopers issued 2,200 tickets since April, a 61% increase for speeding tickets, with one car measured traveling at 127 mph. Traffic decreased 15% during the pandemic, but the number of people caught driving over 80 mph jumped by 30%, according to sensor data analyzed by the state Department of Transportation.
“We’ve seen people continue to go those speeds even though there now is more traffic, which makes it even more dangerous,” said Lt. Craig Cvetan, an Ohio patrol spokesman.
July saw a spike in deaths, recording 154 fatalities – the most in a month since 2007 for Ohio.
“When people see less troopers on the roadway or they see less law enforcement out working, there is that tendency for them to start committing traffic violations,” Cvetan said.
Vermont law enforcement officials believe an increase in the number of traffic fatalities recorded to date this year could be linked to fewer police on the road because of the pandemic. So far there have been 43 traffic fatality deaths, up from 21 at the same point last year.
California Highway Patrol reported that officers will maintain a heavy presence of the holiday weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.