Light traffic in pandemic doesn’t mean ‘pedal to the metal’


Law enforcement around the area see a spike in speeding, reckless driving

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the “stay home” order fully in effect, traffic in the Portland metro continues to be light. So drivers are taking advantage of the lack of traffic—and false assumption that officers aren’t on patrol—by recklessly speeding at an alarming rate.

That’s what the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division is reporting. They’ve noticed drivers’ behavior since the pandemic began, which causes them great concern for others on the road.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office tweeted a picture of speeding and reckless driving violations they handed out over 2 recent Saturdays. Not only is it dangerous, it’s expensive: One driver cited for going 111 mph in a 55 mph zone faces a fine of $1150.

Beaverton police have also seen some egregious examples of reckless driving. One driver was caught speeding at 134 mph.

With lack of traffic, are drivers behaving badly?

Despite the pandemic, police departments are fully staffed with road patrols. On Tuesday morning, motorcycle officers with the PPB clocked various drivers going 80 and even 90 miles per hour.

Officers told KOIN 6 News some drivers are distracted by what’s going on in their personal lives but others have told authorities they thought traffic officers were sheltering in place and not out patrolling streets and highways.

But the reality is, with fewer calls for service, traffic officers in marked and unmarked cars as well as those riding motorcycles are stopping more drivers than ever.

Authorities also noted this is not the time to require emergency care if you get into a speed-related crash.

“You don’t want to go to the hospital right now,” said Officer Bill Balzer. “We need those beds for people who will need them when we peak in a week or so and you won’t be able to get the therapy care after because those places are closed.”

Not only is a ticket going to cost you hundreds of dollars (or more)—you can expect your insurance rate to go up. You could also lose your license for reckless driving.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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