The coronavirus pandemic has meant less traffic on Alexandria roadways, fewer accidents and collisions, although there is a noted increase in the number of reported reckless driving incidents.
There was a 67% increase in reckless driving tickets issued by the Alexandria Police Department in 2020 over 2019. There were 184 reckless driving tickets issued in 2019 and 307 in 2020. With 98 incidents so far this year, the city is on track to exceed last year’s number. However, APD started doing eCitations in late May 2019, and as such the 2019 Reckless Driving ticket numbers are incomplete. All other tickets before that point were filled out manually, skewing the numbers as they were not broken up by citation type.
There is some good news. There was a 40% reduction in driving while intoxicated tickets; a 40% reduction in speeding tickets; and a 37% reduction in traffic collisions.
Last week, Alexandria Police Chief Michael L. Brown confirmed to residents in Del Ray that there is a rise in speeding around the city. He also said that Alexandria Police will soon test automated speed enforcement in school zones and construction zones.
“Our traffic safety section is fully operational during traffic all over the City of Alexandria,” Brown said, adding that the speed enforcement technology will be implemented in troublesome areas. “I will tell you some of the speeds people we were stopping for during the pandemic were extraordinary. I mean, 65 miles an hour down Duke Street.”
Broken rules of the road
At the onset of the pandemic, Alexandria Police did not “proactively address” tickets for minor traffic infractions to limit person-to-person contact. Roads were less busy, and still are, when compared with the days before the coronavirus.
“This, we believe, was in the best interest of our community and our valued law enforcement professionals,”APD Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow. ” That said, traffic offenses which posed a risk to public safety were never avoided and appropriately addressed with education and enforcement. APD will continue to consider the hazards associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and will proceed to participate in traffic education and enforcement when it is in the best interest of public safety.”
Still, police will continue suspending enforcement against displaying current state vehicle registration decals, Paga said, due to the three-month appointment backlog with Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
While existing vehicle registrations may typically be renewed online, new registrations and certain other services require in-person appointments.
By the numbers
Paga said that the 2020 traffic enforcement numbers are still being finalized, and that the 2021 numbers run through March 15.
|Reckless Driving Tickets||184**||307||98|
*This represents handwritten citations for January and eCitations only for February-March.
**This number only represents eCitations from the end of May-December.