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Coronavirus: Crashes on California highways down 75% during shelter in place

California’s shelter-in-place order has resulted in some residual benefits. There is less traffic on the roads, which has led to improved air quality, for one, but also drastically fewer collisions. According to California Highway Patrol, there have been 75% fewer crashes on state highways from March 19 to April 30 than during the same period…

California’s shelter-in-place order has resulted in some residual benefits. There is less traffic on the roads, which has led to improved air quality, for one, but also drastically fewer collisions.

According to California Highway Patrol, there have been 75% fewer crashes on state highways from March 19 to April 30 than during the same period during 2019. That, in turn, has led to an 88% reduction in deaths and 62% fewer injuries related to vehicle collisions.

The upcoming Memorial Day Weekend has historically been prime time for speeding, driving under the influence and, thus, crashes. CHP said, despite COVID-19 and the reduction in cars that has come with it, it will continue to conduct its “Maximum Enforcement Period” over the holiday weekend.

In 2019, before a global pandemic, the auto association AAA estimated 5.4 million Californians traveled somewhere for the long weekend. There were at least nine crashes in the Bay Area last Memorial Day Weekend, including five that were fatal.

CHP said 34 people across the state died from vehicle collisions during last year’s Maximum Enforcement Period, which runs from 6 p.m. Friday to the end of Monday night. During that same time period, officers made 1,099 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Since the state’s shelter-in-place order went into effect, DUI arrests have decreased by nearly 42%, according to CHP, but speeding tickets for 100+ mph have gone up 46%.

Coronavirus fears had largely driven commuters off California’s roads even before local stay-at-home orders. Rush-hour traffic disappeared by March 10, one side-by-side map illustrates. Traffic in the Bay Area has been reduced more dramatically than any other region in the nation, according to another study.

But there is concern that the region’s infamous congestion — and the smog that comes with it — will come roaring back worse than ever once the virus subsides. When workers return to their offices, will they go back to public transit, or will the virus drive more people into their cars?

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