There was more than one reason to be thankful during the holiday season this year, traffic accident fatalities were markedly down across California as compared to last year.
According to the California Highway Patrol, a number of counties saw a significant drop both in the number of car accidents, as well as the fatalities resulting from these. In Santa Cruz County, there was just one fatality from a car accident over the weekend. A 44-year-old man was killed in a head on collision, and apart from that, there were no other serious auto accidents. In San Diego County, the story was similar with three car accident deaths over the holiday, compared to five deaths last year.
In San Francisco, the number of deaths from car accidents over the four-day holiday weekend, was 2 this year, the same as last year.
The statistics were reflective of a wider sense of safety across the state, as the usual crash-heavy Thanksgiving holiday season drew to a close. The season has typically been a busy time for CHP officers who work overtime to keep drunk drivers off the streets, and casualties and injuries to a minimum. The combination of alcohol and family can lead to high spirits, and considering that this is the season that most people are driving across the state and cross-country to gather with family for the holiday, the potential for accidents and fatalities has always been huge. The statistics this year from just about every county are pointing to a decrease, and we have our committed CHP officers to thank for it.
Across the state of California, the number of fatalities in auto accidents was 33, a drop from 41 during the same period last year. Out of the victims, at least 10 were found to have not been wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. Drunk driving arrests were also fewer this year, with about 1530 arrests compared to 1628 last year. According to the CHP, the focus of the agency over the holidays was increased monitoring of drunk driving, seat belt violations and speeding, which together form the three main reasons for fatalities in car accidents.
Besides, there is the fact that people have been traveling lesser this year than they did last year. Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been the time when there are more vehicles on the road than at other times of the year, with the possible exception of the Christmas season. However, this year, a slow economy, stubborn gas prices, and a general gloomy economic outlook led to experts forecasting a drop of about 2 percent, in the number of cars on the highways this year. With fewer people inclined to step on the gas, and fewer vehicles on the highways, the resulting drop in congestion could have contributed partly to the drop in accident rates. Even so, credit is due to the California Highway Patrol for the way the holidays have gone by with fewer accidents and deaths to report.