With lack of traffic, are drivers behaving badly?


"I have people passing me like I'm standing still," said a rideshare driver

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With fewer people on the roads, some drivers are reporting an uptick in the number of people speeding and recklessly driving. Portland and Beaverton police have posted warnings on social media: traffic officers will be out watching for offenders.

Both police departments said their staffing levels are normal and traffic officers are ready to write tickets and make arrests as needed.

“I’ve had to hit my horn several times with close calls already–almost t-boning cars,” said Lyft and Insta-Cart driver Lane Jensen. He said life on the road has gotten a little nuts. “Even just driving today on [Highway] 26, over by Sylvan Hills. I’m going about 60 on the freeway, I have people passing me like I’m standing still.”

Jensen thinks drivers are falsely assuming that police aren’t patrolling due to the coronavirus.

“People just seem like they don’t care about the rules of the road anymore because the police, they don’t want to get out of their cars or whatnot–that’s what they think, that police aren’t going to pull them over,” said Jensen.

Portland’s traffic officers have also made note of the bad behavior, posting a warning to Twitter.

Beaverton police have also seen some egregious examples of reckless driving. One drive was caught speeding at 134 miles-per-hour.

“An officer was running ‘lidar’ on Highway 26 and observed an individual going 134 miles-per-hour,” said Public Information Officer Matt Henderson with the Beaverton Police Department. “That person was pulled over and cited for a crime, the crime of reckless driving.”

Henderson said that despite the pandemic, the roads are fully staffed. The department maintains minimum staffing levels at all times for every department.

“I think among those that are still out on the roads traveling, that there is maybe a misperception that there are fewer officers on the road, and that’s just untrue,” said Henderson.

Jensen said he believes people just aren’t thinking straight. Jensen said some of the worst driver behavior he has seen has been in parking lots.

“I’ve seen [a] motorcycle lane split left and right. It’s bad out there,” said Jensen. “I mean, I don’t even want to drive because of how bad it is. People are crazy.”

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