Speeding zooms in the Corona crisis

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There’s been an alarming acceleration in the numbers of Norwegian motorists caught driving at high rates of speed in recent weeks. Oslo police point to a marked decline in traffic during the Corona crisis that has opened up the roads, tempting speedsters to step far too heavily on the gas pedal.

Police in Oslo have increased traffic patrols during the Corona crisis, and are handing out far more citations for speeding than normal. PHOTO: Justisdepartementet

Most of the offenders are Norwegian men in their 20s, reports newspaper Aftenposten after going through a recent wave of speeding citations. In one case, police spotted a young man speeding on the main E6 highway near Furuset on Oslo’s east side, and abruptly changing lanes to get around those driving at or around the speed limit of 80kph (50mph).

He was clocked at 123kph when a motorcycle patrol finally stopped him after trailing him for four kilometers. Not only did he immediately lose his license, he faces further disciplinary action because of the danger he posed to others.

“This is just one of several examples we’ve registered since the Corona containment measures were put into place,” Finn Erik Grønli, in charge of traffic patrol for the Oslo Police District, told Aftenposten. The measures aimed at reducing the spread of the Corona virus urge Norwegians to work from home and avoid social contact, resulting in “less traffic on the roads, so those fond of speed have more space,” Grønli said. “Based on what we’ve seen so far, speeding has gone way up during the Corona crisis.”

Some of the cases have presented dangerous situations, according to police. Another young man in his 20s was caught driving 182kph (109mph) in a 100kph zone on the E6 at Hvam. Another driver maintained an average speed of 139kph in an 80-zone on the E6 at Taraldrud, while yet another was clocked at 164kph in a 100-zone on the E18 between Oslo and Drammen.

The problem isn’t restricted to Oslo. Police in Bergen have also seen a recent spike in speeding, with one man driving 76kph over the limit on the E39 highway near Sjølinjen.

“We don’t know whether folks think that the police are also sitting indoors during these Corona times,” Grønli told Aftenposten. “If they do think so, they’re wrong.” Police are in fact stepping up patrols, with Grønli stressing that it’s especially important for motorists to be cautious while on the road to avoid accidents that would put even more pressure on Norway’s state and local health care services.

“What we’ve seen just in the past few days indicates that not everyone is taking this Corona crisis seriously,” Grønli said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund