With less traffic on the roads during the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears some Vancouver drivers didn’t hesitate to go full throttle.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) recorded a 44 per cent spike in excessive speeding in March and April over the same two-month period in 2019.
The numbers, released to Global News in response to a Freedom of Information request, revealed officers issued 56 excessive speeding tickets in March and April compared to 39 during the same period last year.
March saw the highest year-over-year increase at 57 per cent while April clocked a 28 per cent surge in alleged incidents involving speed demons.
“They’ll treat the highway or they’ll treat city streets as the Autobahn,” forensic traffic consultant Grant Gottgetreu told Global News.
Gottgetreu, a retired police officer known as “Darth Radar” for impounding more than 2,000 vehicles in six years, said Lower Mainland police departments were directed not to conduct unnecessary enforcement during the early days of the novel coronavirus crisis.
“The bosses said, ‘Well, we don’t want you guys exposed.'”
Gottgetreu says some drivers took the lack of enforcement combined with empty roads as an invitation to speed.
“There’s no officers out there doing enforcement then some of the motorists obviously took advantage of that,” he said.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said it’s unfortunate some people think fewer cars on the road means they can push the pedal to the metal.
“The reality is this: the police are out there, they’ll be enforcing speeding laws and if you get caught you’re going to get nailed in the back pocket,” he said.
If caught, excessive speeders clocked at 40 km/hr over the speed limit will receive a $368 fine while those exceeding the top speed by more than 60 km/hr will get a $483 fine. That’s on top of ICBC penalties.
“They’re going to hit you three different times on top of the price of that ticket,” Aaron Sutherland of the Insurance Bureau of Canada said.
“They also charge you a driver risk premium and driver penalty points on top of higher insurance rates and they’re the only insurer in this country to do that.”
The VPD is not the only police agency experiencing an excessive speeding boost during the pandemic.
Burnaby RCMP saw a 162.5 per cent spike year-over-year during March and April of this year.
Saanich Police recorded a 700 per cent increase in drivers flooring it during the last three weeks of March and the first week of April.
With lower traffic volumes in March and April, Vancouver Police data shows a 72 per cent decrease in speeding year over year.
Global News reached out to the VPD for comment on the increase in excessive speeding but did not receive a response by deadline.