In Los Angeles, a city infamous for its congested highways, the corona outbreak has led to a rare sight for those living in the area: empty highways. Even during rush hour, highways have been traffic free.
While this might sound like good news for those LA drivers still needing to commute around the city, an article in the LA Times says that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) have serious concerns about the increase in speeding on highways as a result of the decrease of traffic.
"[CHP Officer Salvador Castro] urged people to slow down, keep a greater distance between cars on rainy roads, and to not stop along freeway shoulders where traffic passing at higher speeds poses a greater danger to a parked car or a pedestrian."
As mentioned in earlier post on the AlertDriving blog, road safety organizations around the world are urging drivers to be drive as safely as possible during the pandemic. Traffic collisions requiring medical assistance will only add to overburdened hospitals struggling to meet the increase in demand for care.
In LA, where CHP has seen an increase in speeding drivers, there have already been numerous accidents directly caused by excessive speeding. And, as another officer points out, collisions caused by speeding tend to be more severe, almost always requiring medical response. A fender bender in a parking lot might not land you in the ER, but a collision at high speed almost certainly will.
Countless research has shown that increasing your speed increases your risk. While the lack of congestion may make the roads feel much safer, collisions can still happen at any time for any reason and the difference of even 10 km/h can be huge.
The best practice in this unprecedented situation is increased caution. Slowing down on an open highway may feel counterintuitive, but it's the right thing to do. For those of who are safe and healthy, the best thing we can do for others is be intentional in our behaviour.
For more on the situation in Los Angeles, check out the original article in the LA Times by Anh Do, Matthew Ormseth, and Pauline Repard.