Impact of COVID on California Roadways

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COVID-19 has had an impact on so many aspects of daily life here in California. Many are getting used to conducting Zoom meetings for work, leisure or even for school classes for children that may be staying at home.

However, according to a recent auto accident study, COVID-19 is also impacting daily life on the roadways in California. Due to the fact that many people are not on the road, COVID-19 has led to a steady decline in the number of traffic accidents.

Before COVID-19 began to take shape, it appeared that we were headed for an overall increase in accidents as opposed to last year. In February 2020, there were 1,775 car crashes per week on California State Highways. By comparison, there were 1,269 car crashes per week in February 2019. With regards to car crashes caused by speeding, there were 858 crashes per week in February 2020 as opposed to 713 crashes per week in February 2019.

Fewer Drivers. Fewer Accidents.

The projections and results from this statistic have been significantly affected ever since COVID-19 began to take shape and stay-at-home orders became commonplace. From March to April 2020, there has been a 75% decline in the number of car accidents on California State highways as opposed to the same period last year. This significant year-over-year decline has persisted in the preceding months.

With the lack of traffic due to the stay-at-home orders, individuals were not on the road as much. Thus, this led to the overall decline in accidents.

Reduction in Speeding-Related Accidents

More than 9,000 people were killed in speeding-related accidents in 2018. Not surprisingly, there was a decline in the amount of traffic accidents due to speeding in 2019. In July, the amount of car cases caused by speeding per week declined by more than 50% from last year’s total.

However, drivers were more emboldened to go more than 100 miles per hour on the highways. According to the California Highway Patrol, there was a 46% increase in tickets given to individuals who were going at more than 100 miles per hour on the highways.

Drastic DUI Accident Drop

Additionally, there was also a decline in the number of individuals who crashed their cars due to DUIS. Car crashes due to DUIs from March to April 2020 declined by 42% compared to the previous year.

Moving Forward

Finally, COVID-19 had an effect on the amount of miles traveled by motorists on state highways. In February 2020, motorists drive a little bit more overall as opposed to last year. However, COVID-19 reared it ugly head and caused motorist travel to decline by 1/3rd over the next few months. As of July 2020, traffic in California had not gotten back to pre-COVID levels.  

While numbers have since trended back up as drivers have taken to the roads, Californians are potentially heading towards another round of statewide shutdowns. This could once again drastically impact the traffic statistics as 2020 comes to a close.

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