California study: COVID-19 lowering traffic, reducing collisions

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traffic Caltrans1
traffic Caltrans1

DAVIS, Calif. — An eight-page study by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California-Davis has found that vehicle collisions and resulting injuries/fatalities are being cut in half on California highways due to traffic volume declines caused, in large part, by the stay-in-place order issued by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Using data derived from California Highway Patrol incident reports, the university researchers estimate that since the governor’s stay-at-home order went into effect March 19, vehicle collisions — especially injury and fatality collisions — are down 50%, falling from roughly 1,000 collisions and 400 injury/fatal roadway crashes per day to 500 and 200 per day, respectively.

The study also found that traffic volumes dropped in some cases by 60% on certain highways after the order, compared to a similar period prior to the order, which “may account” for the reduced number of collisions.

“However, we could not find a statistically significant change in all incidents involving animals, or deer-vehicle conflict events alone,” the researchers noted.

“This could be because not enough time has elapsed, or because even with a roughly 50% reduction in traffic, it is still not enough to measurably benefit wildlife and domestic animals,” they said.

To view the full study, click here.

Editor’s note: This story was published in The Journal, the official publication of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, on April 3.

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