The rate of speeding tickets issued to drivers who allegedly traveled more than 100 miles per hour increased nearly sevenfold in April, even as total citations on Massachusetts roadways dropped almost 90% with most of public life shut down.
In March 2019 and April of 2019 and in March 2020, police cited motorists for exceeding 100 miles per hour in about 1.1% of all speeding cases, according to preliminary Registry of Motor Vehicles data. That rate jumped to 7.3% in April 2020.
Police cited roughly one-sixth as many speeding violations in April 2020 as they did in March, but the total number of those violations that allegedly involved speeding above 100 miles per hour increased from 129 to 134.
The numbers, which a Department of Transportation spokeswoman provided Monday but cautioned are not yet final for April 2020, underline new warnings state officials raised about a spike in the roadway fatality rate prompted by reckless driving on suddenly traffic-free streets and highways.
"They're not seeing the congestion we used to see just a month and a half ago, and as a result, we're seeing that driving conditions across the board have changed," Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver told reporters Monday. "You don't need to get any place as quickly as some of these people are driving right now."
Citations for all reasons, including civil, criminal, arrest and warnings, dropped in both March and April compared to last year as the COVID-19 pandemic hit Massachusetts in full force, according to RMV data.
Law enforcement issued 53,670 citations in March 2019 and 36,590 in March 2020, a 32% drop. In April 2020, they wrote only 4,385 total citations, less than one-tenth the 47,211 in April 2019.