With California’s strict stay at home order due to COVID-19, Los Angeles’ freeways have become largely deserted. Being stuck bumper-to-bumper for hours on end on the 405 has become an almost distant memory. Our new reality on the road, however, has become quite concerning.
According to the LA Times, the California Highway Patrol has seen an alarming 87% increase in citations for speeding in excess of 100 mph. During the month after the start of the stay-at-home-order in March, the CHP issued 2,493 tickets throughout California for speeding over 100 mph — almost doubling the amount of the same offense seen during the same period last year.
With traffic volume down about 35% from the same period last year, the California Department of Transportation has expedited improvement projects on the roads, putting construction workers at risk.
The pandemic might have emptied out the roads, but the potential for fatal accidents could be at an all time high. “With no traffic, people are pushing the envelope a little more. The crashes are a little more dynamic, fewer fender-benders… Almost every one has an ambulance responding,” a California Highway Patrol Officer told the LA Times back in March.
ABC7 quoted another California Highway Patrol Officer on the current state of LA highways: “The good news is there's less traffic, but what that comes more speeders, erratic drivers."
Though the amount of calls the CHP received before the coronavirus outbreak have dropped compared to the number of fender-benders that occurred during normal gridlock previously, the severity of accidents has gone up.
Nowadays, the agency is witnessing more rollover incidents, single-car collisions, and more ambulances responding due to the higher volume of speeders on the empty roads, which has resulted in far more dangerous results.