Coronavirus Effect: Excessive Speeding Way Up on Israeli Roads

Police set a roadblock on a way in Yerushalayim as they try to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from the densely populated neighborhoods where the infection rate is high, Sunday. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Traffic is down considerably due to coronavirus stay at home orders in Israel – but those who do take to the road tend to be in a great hurry to get to where they have to go, police said. Over the past month, there have significant increases in the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit. A report by Channel 12 said that police data shows that between March 9 and April 9, 636 drivers were fined for traveling 51 kilometers or more over the speed limit – 19% more than the number caught driving at those speeds during the same period a year earlier.

Even though few people are on the road, speeding laws and other traffic laws are being enforced, police said. The speed record holder for the period is a driver from southern Israel, who was clocked by police driving at 245 kilometers per hour (152 mph). Police stopped him and a passenger on Road 6 on Sunday. His license was suspended on the spot, and proceedings are underway to seize his vehicle. Also on Sunday, another driver was caught moving at 232 kph (144 mph), while another caught last week was clocked at 225 kph (140 mph). Many others were caught driving at speeds near 200 kph, police said.

Numerous road accidents took place during the period, and the only reason there weren’t many more is because the roads are much less crowded; according to traffic experts, the number of vehicles on the road is just 30% of the number on a normal day. Police said they will continue to enforce the law and work to ensure the safety of all drivers. They added that they were very upset at drivers who are taking advantage of the light traffic on the roads to flout the law, and that drivers who are caught can expect the penalties to reflect that attitude.

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