May 6, 2020

Speedsters Take Advantage of Open Road during Pandemic

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ICBC (the Insurance Corporation of B.C. that provides mandatory vehicular insurance) has been posting extra social media reminders for drivers to slow down and not risk hospitalization while Covid protocols and cases have priority.

In British Columbia there has been an increase in speeders on the road since the Covid Crisis began. You would think with less traffic there would be fewer crashes, but as Kristen Robinson reports less traffic means “some speed demons are taking advantage of the open highways.”

On Vancouver Island, Saanich Police impounded 16 vehicles for speeding in four weeks compared to  two impounds in the same period last year. All were going over 40 kilometres an hour over the posted speed limit. In April Coquitlam RCMP towed twelve  vehicles for speeding  in a two week period, including one that was travelling 50 kilometres an hour faster than the posted speed limit. The Province’s public safety minister Mike Farnsworth stated “It’s really quite shocking”.

And it is not only in British Columbia where emptier roads have meant speedier traffic. This article in Bostonomics found that while traffic fell by 50 percent on roads in Massachusetts during the Covid Crisis, the rate of fatalities on state roads had doubled since April.  There have been 27 road deaths since April, with 28 road deaths in the April before. But traffic volume in 2020 has been half of that experienced in the previous year.

While Massachusetts transportation officials blame the increased fatalities on speeding and distracted driving, Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver observed:

It’s somewhat of a psychology here that when you have the open road and you’re not used to it, that you’re going to see what you can do and try to get to your destination as fast as possible. That’s something that we do not want people to do.”

The advice the Highway Administrator gave is also salient in British Columbia:

You don’t need to get any place as quickly as some of these people are driving out there right now. We want you to slow down. Pay attention to your surroundings. You have to be aware that the conditions out there are just changed.”

We want everybody to make it through this,” Gulliver said. “This has been a very, very difficult couple of months. Everybody has sacrificed a lot right now. They’ve done everything they can to stay home, to stop this virus from spreading. The last thing that we want to do is get people out on our roadways, driving unsafely, having these fatalities build up.”

Here is a YouTube clip from Seattle, Washington where speeding is also becoming a problem during the Covid Crisis.

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