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California Highway Patrol officer Duane Graham stops a motorist who was suspected of speeding along Interstate 405 on April 23, 2020, in Westminster, Calif.

Chris Carlson/The Associated Press

I still have to drive for work right now. I’d hoped the roads would be safer because there are fewer cars due to COVID-19, but I’m seeing plenty of people driving like maniacs. Are they actually getting charged? – Nick, Toronto.

It looks like at least some Toronto speeders haven’t been able to physically distance from the police during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In five weeks in March and April, Toronto Police issued nearly 1,400 more speeding tickets than they did during the same time last year.

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They also issued more than 200 stunting tickets – a charge which includes street racing and driving more than 50 km/h over the posted limit. That’s nearly seven times the number of tickets in 2019.

“Officers are reporting excessive speed and stunt driving-related behaviour on the expressways and major arterial roads with higher posted speed limits,” said Sgt. Jason Kraft of the Toronto Police traffic services department in an e-mail.

From March 23 to April 27 this year, police gave out 6,908 speeding tickets, up from 5,537 during the same time in 2019. That’s a nearly 25-per-cent increase.

In that same period, police gave out 222 stunting charges, up from 32 during this time last year.

If you get caught stunting in Ontario, cops take your car and your licence for a week. You can also face a $2,000 to $10,000 fine, up to six months in prison and a licence suspension of up to two years for the first offence.

Ontario Provincial Police say they’ve also seen an increase of extreme speeding tickets in the province during the lockdown, although numbers weren’t available.

Roads becoming racetracks?

There have been reports of lead-footed drivers across Canada, but in most places, police say they don’t yet know the total number of charges.

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That’s often because many jurisdictions track court convictions for speeding tickets – but not individual tickets handed out by officers.

Police say they are seeing more speeding, though.

In Calgary, for instance, police nabbed a driver going nearly double the 100 km/h speed limit. In Edmonton, a driver was caught going 117 km/h over the 100 km/h limit, and another was caught going 123 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, Edmonton police say.

In Alberta, speeding can net fines up to $2,000 and up to six demerits.

One place where drivers apparently haven’t felt the need for speed? Vancouver.

“We’ve heard reports of it in other cities, but we haven’t seen any here at all,” says Sgt. Aaron Roed, Vancouver police spokesman. “We just don’t have the space for it.”

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But British Columbia RCMP say they’ve seen a jump in reports of speeding in the rest of the province.

If you’re too fast and furious on the road, provinces including Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have laws that bring instant suspensions.

While they won’t take your licence in B.C., they can take your car for at least a week if you’re caught going 40 km/h or more over the limit.

So are more people speeding than before, or is it just easier to catch them right now?

“We have had an increase in reports of excessive speeds, but it is unknown if there has been a rise in the offences themselves, or if people are simply more attentive with less traffic on the road,” said Const. Jay Murray, Winnipeg police spokesman, in an e-mail.

If you think a fast drive to beat cabin fever is harmless, think again, police say. Even with roads less travelled right now, speeding is still dangerous, say Quebec police,

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“Speeding is still the No. 1 cause of death on our roads,” says Sgt . Audrey-Anne Bilodeau, Sûreté du Québec spokeswoman. “Since there are fewer cars on the roads, people might press the gas a little bit more – but there are essential workers driving on the roads and we need them, so please be careful.”

Have a driving question? Send it to globedrive@globeandmail.com. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up today.

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