WASHINGTON — Stay at home orders have had a significant impact on traffic. During the coronavirus pandemic, rush hour in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region has essentially been non-existent. The hope was that a big drop in traffic would cause a big drop in issues like speeding and fatalities, but experts say that’s not what they are seeing.
“A lot of us are getting behind the wheel and we see that open road and that the opportunity that I can go 90 mph on I-66 when I can normally go 50 mph because of traffic and too many of us are taking advantage of that,” said Jonathan Adkins, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
Empty roads are a temptation for drivers. Virginia State Police have seen that first hand. Troopers have been working to crack down on this problem. Some of the most recent tickets written were for drivers going 114 mph and 111 mph.
“That’s absurd. And what it really is is selfish because you’re putting everyone at risk, particularly our health care heroes right now,” said Adkins.
Other localities are taking to social media to remind drivers to slow down.
Maryland State Police are ramping up their speeding enforcement efforts after two tractor-trailer crashes less than 12 hours apart. In both crashes, speeding was a factor.
Troopers in the Washington Metro area specifically have increased visibility over the last few weeks after complaints of speeding and aggressive driving on the Beltway.
Since March 15, troopers at the College Park Barrack alone gave out 800 traffic citations and issued 108 warnings for traffic violations, mostly on Interstate 95 and Interstate 495. According to MSP, troopers are using directional radar and unmarked patrol cars to catch speeders. This helps them surprise speeding drivers who rely on GPS apps to notify them of law enforcement.
Before the pandemic, Maryland State Police said troopers responded to 2,576 crashes in February. From March 1 to April 14, troopers responded to 2,294 crashes on Maryland highways. The numbers don’t show a significant drop, even though there are far fewer drivers on the roads.
Another concern officials with the GHSA have is the burden this is starting to put on hospitals nationwide with much of the focus on combating COVID-19.
“We’re starting to hear from emergency rooms around the country that the last thing they need right now is traffic crashes coming in,” said Adkins.