Safety advocates sound the alarm on reckless driving amid COVID-19 pandemic

Safety advocates are sounding the alarm about reckless drivers who they say are traveling way too fast on roads that are nearly empty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t know what people are thinking but let me tell you, this is reckless, this is dangerous, and this is pernicious,” said John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

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He’s not the only one speaking out. In a statement, the Governors Highway Safety Association also noted a “severe spike in speeding” throughout the country that they called “alarming.”

While specific statistics from Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia weren’t immediately available, D.C. Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian confirmed that the District has noticed the issue.

Cars drive under an electronic sign board warning drivers about coronavirus, COVID-19, on a highway near Baltimore, Maryland on March 24, 2020. - Some 1.7 billion people have been asked to stay home in over 50 countries and territories around the wor

“Fewer cars on the road has reduced traffic crashes and injuries, however, there has been an increase in speeding citations as well as an increase in the percentage of crashes in which speed was a factor,” Marootian said in a statement. “Safe driving and preventing serious injuries from crashes is an important part of supporting our hospitals’ ability to focus on addressing the coronavirus pandemic.”

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AAA’s Townsend echoed those concerns while making a plea for drivers to slow down.

“Think about this: given the level and scale of the crisis in this area, if you were to injure yourself in a car crash or someone else, where will that person be hospitalized?” So it not only impacts traffic safety, it impacts the entire healthcare system,” Townsend explained.