A Coronavirus Plus: Wide-Open Highways In Los Angeles : Coronavirus Live Updates In the land of gridlock, car accidents are down and the mayor has ordered more red lights to slow traffic.
NPR logo A Coronavirus Plus: Wide-Open Highways In Los Angeles

A Coronavirus Plus: Wide-Open Highways In Los Angeles

California State Route 110 seen with downtown Los Angeles in the background Thursday night. The state is in its second week of a lockdown, where schools and nonessential businesses are closed and the governor has ordered people to stay home. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP hide caption

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

California State Route 110 seen with downtown Los Angeles in the background Thursday night. The state is in its second week of a lockdown, where schools and nonessential businesses are closed and the governor has ordered people to stay home.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

The traffic jams of Los Angeles are legendary, with cars often inching along for miles, bumper to bumper.

But you can add LA gridlock to the long list of things that the coronavirus pandemic has changed.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Thursday there were 59% fewer accidents between the first half of March and the two weeks since March 19, when the municipal government ordered people to stay home and limit outside activity to only the essentials.

Garcetti urged Angelinos not to be tempted to speed through the city's newly empty streets — and he announced a measure to make it harder for them to do so.

"We're acting to make our roads even safer by setting traffic lights to a late-night schedule with more frequent red lights to slow drivers down," he told a news conference.

"There are a lot more people walking and biking and just because there isn't traffic, that's not an excuse to break the speed limit."

In recent days, the Central Los Angeles branch of the California Highway Patrol has been tweeting images of wrecked vehicles and imploring people to slow down.