Coronavirus Has Replaced One Kind of Crappy California Driver With Another

Yes, the number of car crashes has drastically reduced, but other illegal activities are on the rise.

If America’s slow response to the COVID-19 pandemic putting millions out of work and forcing millions more to resort to telecommuting has an upside, it’s that the United States’ nearly 4.1 million miles of road are emptier than they’ve been in decades. Almost nobody but essential personnel (you know who you are—thank you for your service) are out driving, and that means there’s almost no-one to cause car accidents. Rates of crashes and road casualties, accordingly, have taken a tumble, as concluded by a study released this week by the UC Davis Road Ecology Center.

Using statistics supplied by the California Highway Patrol for the 10 days following Governor Gavin Newsom’s March 20 shelter-in-place order, researchers found that the state of California’s average rate of roughly 1,000 collisions and 400 fatalities or injuries daily fell by almost exactly half. From March 21 through March 30, the CHP registered drops in traffic volume as steep as 60 percent, which in turn reduced the average daily crash count to just 500, some 200 of which produce casualties.

And yet, taking advantage of fewer witnesses and stretched-thin law enforcement, the bad apples of the car community have begun treating the public roads as a playground, in one case potentially helping COVID-19 spread its way through Californians.

KTVU reports that as many as 450 people gathered at multiple locations across Oakland to watch and film illegal driving such as the kind shown in the video above, wherein a Pontiac G8 GT shuts down an intersection to do donuts. Onlookers can be seen shirking the six-foot social distancing guidelines recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is overloading the American healthcare system, and forcing the United States Navy to redeploy near-retirement hospital ships to support the civilian medical system—attracting the wrath of a Port of Los Angeles train operator in the process.

Fortunately, the hooligans shown above didn’t get off scot-free: 14 people were issued citations, 12 had their cars towed, and three were reportedly arrested.

While both you and your car could use some fresh air after three weeks of bunkering in your basement and eating reduced-sodium MREs, making a scene and tempting people close to one another is something neither law enforcement nor medical professionals appreciate. If you do have something that you need to get out of your system behind the wheel, and you need an audience, get with the times and go sim racing like the professionals.

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h/t: Los Angeles Times