California traffic study

A newly published study from the University of California has confirmed what many in the trucking industry have suspected for weeks now — that with many “non-essential” drivers staying home, traffic and crashes have been dramatically reduced.

The study “Impact of COVID19 on California Traffic Accidents” was published on April 1 by researchers with the Road Ecology Center at UCDavis. The purpose of the study was to determine the impact of the stay-in-place order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom on traffic and crashes on California roadways. Per the order, only workers in “critical infrastructure sectors”, which includes the trucking industry, were allowed to leave their homes.

The study used data submitted by the California Highway Patrol and found that both traffic and crashes were significantly reduced.

From researchers:

We estimate that since the order went into effect, collisions and especially injury and fatality collisions have been reduced by half, from ~1,000 collisions and ~400 injury/fatal accidents per day to 500 and 200 per day, respectively.

The reduction works out to about 15,000 fewer collisions per month and 6,000 fewer injury/fatal accidents per month that can be directly or indirectly attributed to the shelter-in-place order.

Researchers also found that traffic volumes were up to 60% lower in some areas following the stay-at-home order, which likely contributed to the reduction in traffic accidents.

The study suggested that while COVID-19 has resulted in suffering and death all over the world, that these results could been seen as a silver lining to the pandemic:

The COVID19 pandemic has caused social disruption, panic, and deaths. The Governor’s shelter-in-place order may have provided unexpected reductions in injuries and harm from traffic accidents. The harm caused by COVID19 to global societies and economies only has parallels to large-scale wars. It may help to find the hidden and unexpected benefits from the changes in social functioning that we are taking to reduce the pandemic’s spread. We hope that people take solace in some of these benefits as we deal with the harmful impacts of the pandemic.

You can click here to view the full study.

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