Our roads are pretty empty right now without the daily errands, school runs, and commutes we’re all so used to. In some of the U.S. ‘s most traffic-clogged cities, the lack of snarls is practically unprecedented.
For example, according to the New York Times, average rush-hour speeds on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway have increased a staggering 288 percent since stay-at-home orders were put into effect there. The Los Angeles Times reports drivers of the infamously awful 405 are averaging more than 70 mph when just a few weeks ago they would have been traveling at perhaps 40 mph.
Empty roads are great. They make commuting less onerous and allow you to enjoy your car. What’s not great the righteous few who use them as an excuse to quench their need for speed while everyone else is being responsible and staying home (or still driving the speed limit if they must be on the road). Case in point: Another report from the Los Angeles Times states traffic citations for speeds in excess of 100 mph are up 87 percent.
It’s not just in California. It’s happening all over the country. Ohio has reported the same phenomenon and so has Georgia. Then there are the goons who set a new cross-country “Cannonball” record racing from Los Angeles to New York.
This needs to stop.
Driving your (suddenly clear) favorite roads at life-endangering speeds isn’t just reckless, it’s stupid. Getting 15 minutes of fame from a sick YouTube video isn’t worth endangering countless other people. In fact, nothing is.
Less than a week ago, two men were killed in Oakland after driving at 100 mph and crashing into the back of a big rig. They also weren’t wearing seatbelts, which is not only seriously dangerous but illegal in California and 48 other states. Their friends and relatives are left behind to pick up the pieces all because two guys placed selfishness over smarts at 2 a.m.
Now let’s say these two guys were lucky enough to have survived that wreck. These men would no doubt be in serious condition and in need of immediate medical attention and trauma care, which puts additional—and unnecessary—strain on a hospital system already terribly overstressed and understaffed during a global health crisis. It’s all entirely avoidable.
If you want to drive fast, go to your local drag strip or take your car to a track; if they’re closed for now, wait until they’re open. Put your vehicle and your skills to the test in a closed, safe environment to see if you’re really as fast as you think you are. Odds are, you probably have some work to do. We can’t all be Randy Pobst.
If you’re reading MotorTrend, you probably love driving as much as we do. We’re fortunate enough to test some of the quickest cars to ever hit the road. But we test our cars on a track and we use closed roads to film. Those fancy burnouts and drifting shots you see in our magazine and on our website, as well as on the numerous shows on the MotorTrend App, weren’t done while putting anyone in danger who hadn’t specifically assumed the risk.
This isn’t to say we at MotorTrend are perfect drivers. We’ve been caught for exceeding the speed limit in the past, and have paid the fines for doing so. But we also realize that the street is not a racetrack. We know and respect that a love of speed is far less important than the safety of others on the road.
So do everyone a favor and cut out the ridiculous speeding. Pay attention to the road (including putting down your phone), obey all traffic laws, and wear your seatbelt. It might save your life—and someone else’s, too.