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Speed epidemic: Empty highways lead to extreme speeding during COVID-19 shutdown
A Surete du Quebec officer using a laser speed detector. (Kevin Gallagher / CTV Montreal)
MONTREAL -- With roads and highways emptier than usual due to the COVID-19 crisis, numerous motorists have been caught driving way over the speed limit.
On Sunday, Quebec provincial police released information on three incidents that occurred since Friday.
The first happened on Friday evening when a St-Jean-sur-Richelieu resident was stopped on the Felix-Leclerc Highway near Blaise-Pascal Ave. going 170 kilometres per hour in a 100 zone.
The driver was given a $1,383 ticket, docked 14 demerit points and had his license suspended for seven days.
A day later, another motorist was stopped on the same highway travelling 180 km/h. The 32-year-old driver was ticketed $1,544, 14 demerit points and also had his license suspended for seven days. The driver's vehicle was impounded.
That same day, a 46-year-old driver was caught going 135 km/h on the Laurentian Highway near Louis XIV Blvd. When he was pulled over, police found the man, who was alone in the vehicle, had been watching a television show on his cell phone while driving.
In addition to a $226 speeding ticket and three demert points, the motorist was given a $489 ticket and five demerit points for using a screen device displaying information not relevant to driving.
The information was released the same day a suspected SUV thief was arrested following a seven-kilometre police chase in the province.
On Saturday, a motorcylist in Repentigny died in an incident police said was likely caused by excessive speed. On Friday, another motorcyclist was given more than $2,000 in fines after being caught going 150 km/h in Brossard.
On Tuesday, another driver was caught going 160 km/h – double the speed limit – on the Champlain Bridge at rush hour.
"At the moment, we can’t provide statistics about speeding because they’re not compiled yet," Ann Mathieu of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) told CTV News. "Because there are less vehicles on the road now, it might seem like there are more speeding cases than usual, but we don’t know for sure."
On Monday, the SQ released information about additional speeding incidents. They said that on Friday, a 28-year-old driver was caught going nearly 210 km/h on Highway 40 in Montreal, and 21-year-old motorcyclist was caught going more than 185 km/h in the highway's 70 kilometre-per-hour zone.
The drivers were fined $1,908 and $2,058 respectively, issued 24 demerit points, and had their licences revoked for seven days.
Quebec isn't the only province where some motorists have suddenly developed a lead foot. Last weekend, Ontario Provincial Police clocked one driver going 271 km/h - 161 km/h over the speed limit. The driver faces several charges.
In the United States, California has seen a significant increase in speeding; one recent report found that since March 19, when the state issued its stay-at-home order, California Highway Patrol have issued 89 per cent more tickets for extreme speeders travelling at more than 100 miles per hour than it did during the same period last year.