Colorado's soon-to-expire stay-at-home order over COVID-19 has resulted in much lower traffic on the state's highways, and volume is likely to remain lighter than usual during the first phases of the reopening process set to begin on April 27.
Many drivers have interpreted this scenario as a license to speed, particularly since many law enforcement agencies have been working to reduce face-to-face contacts. But the Colorado State Patrol is still citing those who are really pushing the limits — and there are a lot of them.
"The short version is: Yes, we have seen too many drivers that feel a more open road is an invitation to violate speed and other laws," confirms Trooper Josh Lewis, a CSP spokesperson, via email. "But despite the stay-at-home order and other aspects that have resulted in less vehicles on the roadways, CSP has issued more citations for 20+ MPH over the speed limit, and 40+ MPH over the speed limit, than we did for the same time period last year (Jan-Feb-March)."
Lewis confirms that he and his colleagues have backed off to some degree when it comes to minor violations.
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"The Colorado State Patrol is doing what we can to help flatten the curve by limiting interactions with other people and taking precautions when those interactions are necessary (masks, gloves, etc.)," he stresses. "So smaller infractions, like expired plates, etc., may be overlooked during the current situation. However, as noted by the amount of citations we have issued, we have and will continue to stop vehicles that are a danger to themselves and others."
Other advice offered by Lewis echoes exhortations from Governor Jared Polis about sticking close to home.
"We hope people will continue to do their part and limit travel to only what is essential," he allows. "But when travel is essential, we want drivers to understand we are still out, and we will still stop drivers that are behaving recklessly!"
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Lewis adds: "Another thought to consider: If a driver crashes because they made the selfish decision to drive dangerously, that driver is now taking resources (troopers, deputies, CDOT workers, EMT/medics, firefighters, nurses, doctors, hospital rooms, equipment, etc.) that could be used to help fight this situation. Our ask is simple: Limit travel, and when it is necessary, commit to driving as safely as possible."