How Much Did COVID Really Impact California Roadways?

With the COVID pandemic putting Californians into lockdown, a lot of changes in daily living and the impact of those changes became apparent. Smog and air pollution were down because fewer vehicles were on the road. A lot of the atmosphere around Earth seemed to clear up too and lights around the country could be seen better from space.

California saw other interesting impacts closer to home, namely fewer drivers on the roads. As a result, many drivers received refund checks from their insurance companies. But just how much of an impact did Covid have on the driving habits of Californians?

Accidents Dropped Significantly

Unsurprisingly thousands of cars not on the road in the last several months meant that gridlock traffic just didn’t happen. Accidents also decreased because the drivers that were on the road did not have a lot of other drivers and vehicles to hit or be hit by. In fact, a comparison of the accident data from 2019 to 2020 shows a drop in accidents in the hundreds!

DUIs Also Dropped

Lockdowns meant no parties, no gatherings, no celebrations of any kind. No parties meant no drinking and driving. No drinking and driving meant no arrests. While there were still some DUIs in 2020, the numbers were not quite as high as in 2019.

Out of all of the causes of car crashes on the Californian highways from February to July, DUI crashes were the lowest cause. All causes were lower than the previous year, but speeding still lead the way in the highest number of crashes for this cause.

Less Distance Traveled Until Independence Day

As expected, there was a huge drop-off in miles driven for February to the end of June. Many people followed the stay-at-home orders and did not travel. In mid-summer when the 4th of July came around, there was a spike in travel, but the miles were still less than they were at the same time the previous year.

People went camping and watched fireworks celebrations remotely. They didn’t venture far, but mass numbers of Californians opted to just get out of the house over the July holiday weekend. The obvious spike in travel at this time is very telling.


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