Empty highways lure California drivers to speed, with citations up 87 percent

Bored at home and with wide-open highways beckoning, drivers are feeding their need for speed.
Image: US-HEALTH-VIRUS
A mostly empty highway through downtown Los Angeles just before noon on April 7, 2020.Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images file

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By David K. Li

Too many car-loving Californians, with wide open highways beckoning and nothing but boredom at home, are taking to roads at dangerous, triple-digit speeds, authorities said Wednesday.

Between March 19, when Gov. Gavin Newsom issued sweeping stay-at-home orders to fight coronavirus, and April 19, the California Highway Patrol issued 2,493 citations for speeding at over 100 mph, compared to 1,335 such tickets during the same period last year, the agency said.

That 87 percent spike comes as California traffic volume plummeted 35 percent compared to the same time last year, the CHP said, citing Department of Transportation data.

“Fewer cars on the road doesn’t give drivers the green light to travel over the speed limit,” the state's Office of Traffic Safety Director Barbara Rooney said in a statement. “Driving at a safe speed when you must go out is one way to keep you and your family safe during this pandemic.”