Speeding violations, particularly those over 100 mph, have as much as doubled in parts of Kern County and throughout the state during the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to last year.
On Tuesday, the California Highway Patrol’s Buttonwillow office made a Facebook post displaying 15 tickets officers gave out the weekend of Oct. 3 for speeding violations over 100 mph. Officer Adam Taylor, CHP Buttonwillow’s public information officer, said the lighter traffic on Interstate 5 has been the biggest contributor to the increased violations.
“Right from the first shutdown in March we started noticing an increase (in high-speed violations),” Taylor said. “We’ve had some caught going in the 130s range (of speed).”
From April 1 to Oct. 1 this year, CHP has given out 16,895 speeding violations for going over 100 mph throughout the state. That’s more than twice as many given out in the same time period in 2019, according to Jaime Coffee, public information officer for CHP in Sacramento.
From Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2019, the CHP Buttonwillow office gave out 926 tickets for speeding violations exceeding 100 mph, according to Taylor. In the same time frame this year, the office has given out 1,053, making it about a 14 percent increase.
Their office’s jurisdiction includes 75 miles of I-5 — from the Kings County line down to Highway 166, and everything west of I-5 in Kern County to San Luis Obispo County, Taylor said.
“The reason the increase may not seem so significant is that we’re already a pretty high speed area,” Taylor said. “Most people on I-5 are driving through the state as opposed to commuting for work, so high speed ticket numbers were already high.”
Taylor said that one of CHP’s primary concerns with those high speeding rates is the increased chance of a crash. He also said the violations cause unnecessary exposures between CHP officers and motorists that could contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
“If they crash at that speed and they go to the hospital, well that’s the last place I’d want to be because of how many COVID infected patients are there,” Taylor said. “Jails aren’t a great place either in terms of COVID.”
While motorists cannot be arrested for speeding violations, they can be arrested for reckless driving if three or more moving violations are committed at once, Taylor said.
In CHP’s Bakersfield jurisdiction, there’s been a significant increase in speeding violations this year as well.
Speeding violations between April 1 to Oct. 1 have all increased when compared to the same time period last year in the categories of speeding in excess of 65, 70 and 100 mph, according to Officer Roberto Rodriguez, CHP Bakersfield area public information officer. As an example, Rodriguez said during that time frame this year, there have been 240 citations given out for speeding more than 100 mph, which is nearly twice the 122 that were given out in that period of 2019.
CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley made note of the increase in speeding instances back in May.
“Resist the temptation to speed even if it seems there’s less traffic,” Stanley said. “Remember, taking care of one another goes beyond wearing a face covering and physical distancing.”
Taylor also pointed out the costly result of speeding, particularly over 100 mph. He said fines can reach a maximum of $2,200 and a two-point violation for the offender’s license.
“Most of the judges here in Kern County will suspend your license. It hurts you financially and it goes on your driving record, outside of the other damage it can do,” Taylor said.