A UC Davis study has found that since stay-at-home orders have been put into effect, California has been saving around $40 million a day due to reduced traffic and reduced crashes.
According to the study, traffic has gone down on highways by as much as 55 percent compared to last year. The study also found that total crashes had been reduced by nearly two-thirds. When the total number of traffic collisions between March 21st and April 11th were compared between 2019 and 2020 it showed a dramatic decline from 1,128 collisions to 450 collisions.
The combined total of property damage, healthcare costs, insurance figures, emergency services, and other resulting figures amounted to $40 million a day being saved, or, as of April 20th, over $1 billion so far.
“The savings was about $40 million a day,” said Fraser Schilling, UC Davis Road Ecology Center Co-Director, in a Los Angeles Times interview. “That’s about $15 billion over a one-year period, which is almost the size of the state portion of California’s transportation budget for a year.”
“Suddenly you have much fewer cars. So it’s much safer to be a pedestrian or cyclist these days.”
California hasn’t been the only beneficiary of reduced traffic. Oil prices have remained below average, with prices hitting a record low into the negatives on Monday, signaling cheaper gasoline prices and cheaper plane fuel as relief for the struggling airline business. Insurance companies have also been reporting billions in profits since March as fewer insurance claims due to fewer cars on the road have led to a larger influx of money.
“COVID-19, especially the economic effects, have been tough on a lot of people,” explained automotive analyst Andrew Mueller. “But we’ve been seeing all these silver linings. Like pollution in LA dropping to levels we haven’t seen in decades. But also now essential workers are getting a break at the pumps. Airlines are hemorrhaging less money due to lowered fuel costs. Less crashes are happening, and we’ve seen crash deaths go down dramatically.”
“This is still doing so much economic harm right now, and we still don’t know what the full extent will be. California is saving money through this, but they’re losing much more per day in total through lost taxes and revenue. Right now I’m personally worrying about GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Tesla making it through, as well as tire companies and things like that. But we need to take the positives in this where we can get it. And I have to say that less injuries and less deaths from car accidents freeing up hospitals to help treat coronavirus more is one of those positives.”
“Politically, with the state budget coming in soon, we may see a reduction in highway and road services for a year because of this. The California Highway Patrol isn’t overseeing nearly as many cars anymore for example. During the last recession many law enforcement departments nationwide made severe cuts simply due to budget reasons, and now it’s up again, this time with fewer cars on the road, not to mention crime rates mostly dropping.”
“We’ll see where this leads.”
It is expected that the state will save $40 million a day in car collision related costs until stay-at-home orders are lifted, which is expected in most places in California until at least May.
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