Empty streets not an invitation to speed

A 37-year-old driver in London clocked at 116 km/h in a 50 km/h zone April 2020. Photo from London Police Service Twitter page.

With the number of vehicles travelling city streets down significantly as people isolate at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some drivers have begun treating area roadways as racetracks

Over the last week, London police have nabbed five different drivers for doing more than double the posted speed limit within the city. The five drivers, who range in age from 18 to 37, have been charged with stunt driving.

The latest incident happened on Oxford Street East at Thornton Avenue, where a white sport sedan was clocked travelling 126 km/h in the posted 50 km/h zone. It was the second time since March the driver was stopped for street racing, police said.

Others travelling at excessive speeds were busted on Riverside Drive at Old Riverside Drive, in the area of Highbury and Wilton avenues, and on Wellington Road.

In each case, the vehicles were speeding at more than 100km/h when they were stopped.

According to police, motorists looking to put the pedal to the metal on empty city streets should think twice.

“We want to reassure members of the public that members of the London Police Service are still conducting traffic enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Constable Sandasha Bough. “Members of our Traffic Management Unit have noticed that with less traffic on the roadways, some drivers are able to reach greater speeds, and the lack of cars on the roads is also making it easier to find and stop those driving at higher speeds.”

Whether there has been an actual rise in the number of vehicles stopped for street racing within the city since the pandemic began remains to be seen. Currently, it is too early to look at statistics in relation to the number of people caught speeding, said Bough.

Police crime analysts will continue to monitor what is taking place in the city to see if there is an increase during the health crisis.

Drivers caught stunt driving face an automatic seven-day licence suspension and week-long vehicle impoundment. If convicted they can be hit with fines up to $10,000 and up to six months in jail.