Apr 21

Can Fewer Cars on the Road Make Tampa Bay Roads More Dangerous?

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Empty Tampa Bay roadThe COVID-19 situation has certainly put fewer cars on Tampa Bay roads, but that has brought on some dangerous driving behaviors.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, traffic on Tampa Bay roads has dropped by 30 percent, but speeding and red light runners have increased. In fact, the rate of red light violators has increased by two-thirds compared to the same time frame a year ago. In addition to the number of red light runners, data shows more people are speeding because of the less traffic.

According to the article, Highway Patrol data comparing March 2019 and March 2020 show motorists ticketed for driving over 100 mph tripled in Pinellas County. Also, drivers speeding at least 30 mph over the posted limit doubled in Pinellas County.

Maybe drivers have figured out that many area law enforcement agencies have stopped pulling people over for all but extreme speeding to avoid the risk of coronavirus infections. Statewide, moving violations are down 92 percent due to a mix of less traffic and social distancing policies by many police departments. In Tampa, police issued 586 traffic citations this March compared to 1,266 last March — a drop of 54 percent.

“Just because the roads are vacant doesn’t mean you ignore the law,” warned Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins. “Traffic congestion is actually a traffic calming mechanism,” said Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter. “People forget that.” Smart words for two guys looking out for you!

Drive safely and watch out for those who don’t! (Smart words from another guy looking out for you!)

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