As Edmontonians are being asked to stay home as much as possible amid an ongoing coronavirus pandemic, city officials say they have seen a spike in drivers speeding on roads.
“The Edmonton Police Service and the City of Edmonton have noticed a significant increase in speeding over the past week, particularly at extreme speeds,” Jessica Lamarre, the city’s acting director of traffic safety, told Global News in an email.
“City of Edmonton data shows that while there was a 30 per cent decrease in vehicles on our roads last week, there was a 30 per cent increase in speeding more than 20 kilometres per hour over the limit.”
Lamarre also noted that the city has seen an over 200 per cent increase in drivers speeding more than 50 km/h over the speed limit in recent days.
Mayor Don Iveson, who is currently self-isolating because of mild symptoms of illness, spoke to reporters at a news conference by video on Thursday.
He said that while he has not been out and about, he gathers that “the roads are not as busy and so they feel wide open and so some people are taking that as a visual cue to drive a little fast.”
“I understand… People have anxiety and want to be out as little as possible and get home to their loved ones, but that’s no excuse for breaking the law when it comes to the speed limit,” he said.
“The last thing we need is a spike in traffic accidents because people were speeding, and consequently, the kind of drain on our public health-care system.
“Now’s the time where we need to be very, very careful… our health-care workers have enough to deal with.”
Lamarre said the city will continue to use automated enforcement when it comes to speeding during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are paying attention to what is happening on our streets and adjusting our approach to best support road safety,” she said. “Locations that have seen an increase in speeding will be prioritized.”
Lamarre called on Edmontonians to keep city roads safe by slowing down.
“By driving at safe speeds, drivers can help ease the burden on police and health resources so they can focus on COVID-19,” she said.