birds eye view of Los Angeles freeways with less traffic
Traffic is light at rush hour at the interchange of the 110 and the 105 freeways recently. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Coronavirus stay-at-home orders have reduced traffic accidents by half

By Louis Sahagun on April 1, 2020 for the Los Angeles Times

"Coronavirus stay-at-home orders that went into effect on March 20 have reduced vehicle collisions on California roadways by roughly half, according to a UC Davis survey that is the first to estimate the impact of the extraordinary health orders on traffic.

'The reduction works out to about 15,000 fewer collisions per month and 6,000 fewer injury accidents per month,' said Fraser Shilling, co-director of the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis. Shilling said the reduction in motor vehicle accidents on highways and roads, 'can be directly or indirectly attributed to the shelter-in-place order.'

The survey suggests that a 60% drop in traffic volume — when compared to the same period last year — accounts for a roughly 50% decline in collisions on roadways policed by California Highway Patrol.

As people have limited their vehicular use to traveling to work and obtaining food and other essentials, it was predictable that collisions would decrease. And with bars and restaurants shuttered, there would be even fewer drunk driving accidents.

But Shilling was surprised by the extent of the reduction.

'We’ve never had a statewide experiment like this before,' he said, 'where you severely reduced traffic and then in real time monitor the public health implications of less vehicles and their pollution.'”

Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times

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