SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — Highways on the central and south coasts were put to the test for Thanksgiving weekend, and it could be a sign of what's to come this holiday season.
Ongoing construction on several sections of Highway 101 – both north and southbound – led to expected delays and more congestion the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
CHP officer Michael Griffith said Buelton saw an increase in traffic crashes over the holiday weekend.
“A lot of times, especially through the construction areas in Ventura, in Santa Barbara and a little bit here in Buellton, when you have, you know, normally you'd have three lanes and it's down to two or one lane, just traffic backs up. And you get a lot of, you know, people for whatever reason, just going too fast. They might be distracted with their phones or something else on their car. They just don't stop in time. And and that's when you get the rear end accidents,” said Buelton California Highway Patrol Spokesman Michael Griffith.
Griffith said that unsafe speed is the number one crash factor his colleagues deal with.
Officers gave out hundreds of speeding tickets during the holiday maximum enforcement period.
“We did have, in Ventura County, 24 DUI arrests during that maximum enforcement period. And we did issue 615 speeding citations, as well as a number of other violations that we were observing, like distracted driving or not wearing your seatbelt,” said Ventura California Highway Patrol Spokesman Jorge Alfaro.
Alfaro said lane closures do play a role in increased traffic violations.
“The lane closures do tend to slow drivers down. And, you know, some people do get impatient. So when the lanes finally open up, they start, you know, speeding again or they'll pick up their speed,” said Alfaro.
CHP officers said the traffic flow was fairly normal on Thanksgiving and the days after.
They said the upcoming holiday season will bring extra safety concerns as we also move into the wetter winter months.