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Washington sees rise in speeding on empty freeways

There may be fewer cars on the road, but driving laws still apply. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

With the freeways so wide open right now, I bet you have looked at the speedometer and were shocked how fast you were going. Washington State Patrol has noticed a jump in speeding too.

Pedestrians getting extra time at Seattle traffic signals during shutdown

I will admit that I have had a good song on at 4 a.m. while heading to the office, and have been shocked to see my speed approaching 80 miles an hour on I-5 through Snohomish and King counties. It’s really easy to get into a groove and lose sight of your speed with such light traffic. At least it is for me, but I have been passed by drivers going even faster.

State Trooper Rick Johnson said our speeds have gone up with all that extra room.

“We’ve had 120 miles per hour on 167, and 90-plus is common,” he said. “Triple digits — we’re seeing a lot more of those.”

Trooper Johnson understands why you might want to open it up and see what your car can do, but there really isn’t a need for that.

“If you’re commuting, and you’re essential, and you’re going to work and you’re used to the rush hour taking an hour, right now it’s not taking an hour,” he said. “You’ve already cut your time in half so why do you need to do 100 miles an hour to get there even quicker?”

Trooper Johnson even understands that drivers might lose track of their speed, like I have, but triple digits is usually more of a decision.

“Twice the speed limit just doesn’t creep up on you,” he said. “You kinda have to push down the accelerator a little more.”

California Highway Patrol reports that it wrote nearly 2,500 tickets for people going 100 miles an hour or more, just in the last month. That’s an 86% increase of the same period last year.

Trooper Johnson said the coronavirus hasn’t changed the speed limits, and you should expect to get pulled over if you’re doing silly stuff on the roads.

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“The speed limit still applies, as do all the other laws,” he said.

That includes left lane camping, which I continue to see at an alarming rate. I don’t understand why people will hang in that lane when there are no other cars around, but Trooper Johnson said they’ve seen less aggressive driving with the roads so open. When you can get around that illegal left lane camper without much issue, your blood doesn’t get the extra time to boil.

There have also been less accidents during this time, so there have been some positives in all of this.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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