LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Although fewer drivers are on the roads due to the safer-at-home orders brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the number of fatal crashes in the city of Los Angeles have remained alarmingly high, as authorities implore drivers to slow down.

An LAPD motorcycle officer pulls over a car. May 2020. (CBS2)

“We’ve seen…an alarming increase in traffic fatalities across the city about a month after the stay-at-home orders were implemented, around the beginning of April,” Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Blake Chow told reporters in a news conference Thursday morning.

Despite having less drivers on the roads over the past two months, there have been 86 traffic fatalities in L.A. so far this year, which is about equal to the number of fatalities for the same period in 2019, police said.

“We are imploring drivers on the streets of Los Angeles: please slow down,” LAPD Cmdr. Marc Reina said.

Reina said speeding was found to be primarily responsible for 11 of the 86 fatalities. 58 percent of the victims were pedestrians.

There have been more than a dozen traffic fatalities so far in the month of May, police said. Chow speculated that the easing of the lockdown coupled with the increase in pedestrians and bicyclists could be to blame.

“I believe we’re going through…a re-acclimation period if you will, with mixing traffic with pedestrians with bicycles,” Chow said.

Prior to the coronavirus lockdown, L.A. was averaging a traffic fatality every 36 hours, Reina said. Since the lockdown began, its averaged a fatality every two-and-a-half days.

The news conference was held in Watts, at Imperial Highway and Compton Avenue, where three people were killed on the night of May 1 when a Nissan Altima speeding down Imperial slammed into two other cars.


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