How the coronavirus is (and isn’t) changing speed limits

  • Living
  • Friday, 24 Apr 2020

Transport officials in several countries are pleading with motorists not to get themselves injured in a car crash during the lockdown, as hospitals can’t handle the extra patients. — dpa/Archivbild/Sebastian Gollnow

The coronavirus may have emptied our streets, but that doesn’t mean it’s now all right to break the speed limit – at least according to some road authorities.

Police and transport officials in several countries are warning motorists to not take advantage of empty roads during the pandemic by putting the pedal to the metal.

Officials in Canada, meanwhile, say it’s now OK to go full steam ahead past some schools.

The 30km/h speed limit near schools in the city of Winnipeg are currently not being enforced as long as there’s no children in them due to school closures, police told local media.

By and large, however, officials are pleading with motorists not to get themselves injured in a car crash at the moment, as hospitals can’t handle the extra patients.

The Isle of Man is trying to lighten the load on the country’s healthcare system by reducing the number of road accidents with a new speed limit of 40mph (65km/h) across the British island.

“The move is designed to minimise the risk of accidents leading to bed spaces being occupied as the Island’s health service plans for a spike in the number of people needing hospital treatment, ” local officials announced.

Emptied roads in United States appear to have changed the behaviour of drivers in that nation. “Troopers have received increased reports of aggressive driving and excessive speeding, ” Minnesota State Patrol said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, in Germany, police caught a pizza chef doing 95km/h in a 50km/h zone in the city of Luedenscheid last Tuesday. When apprehended by officers, the man tried to blame the coronavirus crisis, police said in a statement.

Officials in Belgium’s Walloon region have likewise said their emergency services already had enough work to do in caring for Covid-19 patients.

The strict lockdown in Belgium has led to a drop in road traffic of 97% near the end of March, the Walloon transport authority AWSR said.

As such, authorities are nervous that motorists will be tempted to break the speed limit – 120km/h on Belgian motorways.

The road officials have only one message for drivers: “Stay at home, and if you absolutely must be on the road, do so as safely as possible.” – dpa

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