While Californians observe the stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s roadways and those who use them are seeing the impact. With traffic volume down, the number of incidents on California’s roadways, including collisions and arrests for driving under the influence (DUI), continue to decline.
“People are adhering to the order, eliminating non-essential travel, and as a result, there has been a significant reduction in the number of commuters on the highways,” said California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Warren Stanley.
According to preliminary data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there was a 75 percent decrease in the number of crashes in California this year from March 19 to April 30, as compared to the same period in 2019. Additionally, the same SWITRS data indicated an 88 percent reduction in the number of people killed and a 62 percent decrease in the number of people injured in crashes. The total number of truck-involved collisions also saw a 60 percent drop, with fatal truck-involved crashes down 88 percent.
California’s crash reduction rate is not the only positive to come from the quieter roadways. The number of DUI arrests made by CHP officers has decreased during March and April, from 7,224 in 2019 to 4,223 in 2020; nearly 42 percent.
However, not all of the state’s drivers have been on their best behavior during the pandemic. The open roads have led to a few brazen motorists testing the speed limit and eventually meeting up with a CHP officer for a citation. Between March 19 and April 30, CHP officers issued 4,000 citations for speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour, which is an increase of 113 percent from last year.
“Resist the temptation to speed. Drivers are easier to spot when they are on a nearly empty roadway,” added Commissioner Stanley. “Remember, taking care of one another goes beyond wearing a face covering and physical distancing. As communities in California move into the next phases of reopening, continue to slow down, pay attention to the road, drive sober, and keep yourself and those around you from becoming a grim statistic.”