Coronavirus California: Surge in drivers going over 100 mph becomes problematic during state's shelter-in-place order, CHP says

ByLindsey Feingold and Grace Manthey and Carlos Granda KGO logo
Thursday, May 7, 2020
CHP: 87% increase in tickets to drivers going more than 100 mph amid COVID-19 shutdown
CHP is cracking down on speeding after seeing drivers going too fast on empty California freeways during the coronavirus pandemic.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With the novel coronavirus related shelter-in-place order in effect through the state, the California Highway Patrol has seen a spike in speeding and say it's becoming a real problem.

In a one month period from when the stay-at-home first started in March to April 19, the CHP wrote 2,493 tickets for drivers going over 100 mph. That's an 87% increase compared to the same period as last year. CalTrans says traffic volumes are down about 35% compared to 2019.

RELATED: Citations for speeding over 100 mph jumps 87% compared to last year, CHP says

Over the weekend, in a two-day period, the Golden Gate CHP arrested 84 drivers for driving under the influence, issued 1,572 citations for speeding and wrote 85 citations for speeding over 100 mph.

In Contra Costa County, the CHP posted on Facebook that they're still enforcing traffic regulations and they're "not shocked either."

"Remember what the 'speed limit' is?!" The Contra Costa CHP tweeted on April 29. "If you saw some extra #chp love on #hwy4 yesterday afternoon, we were cracking down on those excessive speeds. So don't be surprised if you see more of us, behind you, pulling you over for speed. Slow down for your safety & the ones around you."

Across all nine Bay Area counties, people traveled an average of 3.16 miles from home in March before the shelter-in-place order. That dropped to less than half a mile in April. Data shows that Napa, Solano and Sonoma County have traveled further, and people in San Francisco have traveled the least, averaging less than 0.2 miles away from their homes.

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The speeding problem isn't only in California. The Governor's Highway Safety Association reported reckless driving surging across the country.

RELATED: 'Straight up irresponsible': CHP tickets driver going 139 mph on East Bay highway

In New York City, despite fewer vehicles on the road, the city's automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets citywide on March 27, which is nearly the double 12,672 tickets issued a month earlier before shelter-in-place orders were enforced.

The GHSA reports speeds are up by 30% on some Los Angeles streets, prompting changes to traffic lights and pedestrian walk signals.

State police in Florida and Iowa are recording drivers going 20 to 40 miles over the posted speed limit.

"While COVID-19 is clearly our national priority, our traffic safety laws cannot be ignored," said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. "Law enforcement officials have the same mission as health care providers - to save lives. If you must drive, buckle up, follow the posted speed limit and look out for pedestrians and bicyclists. Emergency rooms in many areas of the country are at capacity, and the last thing they need is additional strain from traffic crash victims."

California's more than 700 electronic highway signs are soon to display messages that read, " IF YOU MUST TRAVEL DO NOT SPEED" and "KEEP ESSENTIAL WORKERS SAFE DO NOT SPEED"

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