A California Highway Patrol vehicle. MyNewsLA.com photo by John Schreiber.
A California Highway Patrol vehicle. MyNewsLA.com photo by John Schreiber.

Traffic volume and DUI arrests have declined as Californians observe stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number of motorists cited for driving more than 100 mph increased by nearly 50%, authorities said Tuesday.

“People are … eliminating non-essential travel, and as a result, there has been a significant reduction in the number of commuters on the highways,” California Highway Patrol Commissioner Warren Stanley said.

“Resist the temptation to speed; drivers are easier to spot when they are on a nearly empty roadway,” Stanley said. “Remember, taking care of one another goes beyond wearing a face covering and physical distancing. As communities in California move into the next phases of reopening, continue to slow down, pay attention to the road, drive sober, and keep yourself and those around you from becoming a grim statistic,” Stanley said.

Preliminary CHP data show a 75% decrease in the number of crashes in California from March 19 to April 30, as compared to the same period in 2019.

There was an 88% reduction in the number of fatalities in crashes and a 62% decrease in the number of people injured in crashes. And the number of DUI arrests made by CHP officers decreased nearly 42%.

“However, not all of the state’s drivers have been on their best behavior during the pandemic,” a CHP statement said. “The open roads have led to a few brazen motorists testing the speed limit — and eventually meeting up with a CHP officer for a citation.”

Between March 19 and April 30, CHP officers issued 2,738 citations for speeding in excess of 100 mph, an increase of 46% from the same period last year statewide.

Locally, figures released recently indicated that less traffic on Los Angeles streets led to a 38% decrease in traffic collisions during the pandemic. However, traffic fatalities increased by 15% compared to the same time last year, and pedestrian fatalities have increased by 33%, with a majority of them occurring in the Los Angeles Police Department’s South Bureau area.

“We want people to get the message that they need to slow down and be aware of their surroundings,” said LAPD Officer Tony Im.

“They are seeing less traffic, and they are driving too fast. And they may not even be aware of how fast they are going,” Im said.

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