COVID-19 Stay at Home Order Leads to Decline in Auto Accidents

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In the wake of the stay-at-home measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the California Highway Patrol is reporting a decrease in the number of auto accidents.

Throughout the month of March, cities and states began to take drastic measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. On March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order for residents to shelter in place. Aside from notable exceptions, such as healthcare workers and grocery store clerks, California residents have been ordered to stay home as much as possible. As a result, fewer vehicles have been on California streets, leading to a significant reduction in the number of calls to report auto accidents. With people staying at home and not traveling much by car, California Highway Patrol (CHP) has reported a reduction in calls for assistance.

A Notable Decrease in Auto Accident Reports

For the most part, California residents have stopped getting in their cars, now only making short trips to the grocery store when absolutely necessary. The roads have become clearer and more vacant, so it’s less likely that auto accidents will occur. In fact, the CHP in the San Luis Obispo area has reported a 40 percent decrease in auto collisions since the shelter in place order was announced.

According to Mike Poelking, the Public Information Officer for the CHP, “The good side of a lot less traffic is the fact that with that, we’re having a direct correlation with a lot fewer traffic collisions. The California Highway Patrol here in San Luis Obisbo is noticing a 40 percent decrease in traffic crashes as a result of that.”

An Opportunity to Pool Resources

Another upside to the decrease in traffic accidents during the COVID-19 outbreak is the increased ability for public agencies to join forces and assist one another. For instance, members of CAL FIRE have been available to help the county’s emergency operations center and work with the department of public health to better serve the community’s needs. While fewer traffic accidents are occurring, other community needs have emerged, such as the increased need for homeless shelters that abide by social distancing guidelines and other services to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Fewer Crashes, But Riskier Behavior

While there have been several benefits to the reduction of drivers on the road, the CHP has noticed that those drivers who do venture out on the road are more likely to travel at faster speeds. In fact, some law enforcement officers have reported that drivers are flying along the open road, topping 100 miles per hour. Even though the roads are more sparsely populated, these risky driving behaviors still pose a number of dangers to the driver, passengers, other cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. For now, CHP officers say that they are monitoring these situations and implementing measures to prevent speeding within the community.


If you’ve been involved in an auto accident in the Temecula or Murrieta area, reach out to the knowledgeable legal team at Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation today. Call (951) 489-3320 to arrange a consultation with a dedicated auto accident attorney.

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