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Traffic patrols in Santa Maria to increase as car crashes are up 30 percent

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KEYT
The Santa Maria Police Department is set to increase traffic patrols.

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Santa Maria Police Department said there have been 344 car crashes in 2020, up 30 percent from this time last year.

The total number of car accidents last year was over 2,000.

These accidents are happening in every part of Santa Maria, but especially on the busier streets like Betteravia, Broadway, Main Street, and Donovan.

Most of the accidents are between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm.

Police said they are enacting more traffic patrols.

They are sending officers out in two hour increments during peak traffic on some of those busier streets to patrol traffic violations that could cause accidents.

On Wednesday, officers completed 25 traffic stops and issued 18 citations during one of those two hour periods.

In January alone, officers completed over 1,000 traffic stops and issued citations 48 percent of the time.

The department says they will also be adding to the force.

"Because of Measure U that was passed in 2018, we are looking at increasing staffing in our traffic unit by an additional two officers in the next few months," said Lt. Russell Mengel of the Santa Maria Police Department.

Police say there are many factors contributing to the number of accidents.

"We have more cars here in Santa Maria," said Lt. Mengel. "The community in general is growing. The roadways are not."

He said that speed is also often a factor.

"People get impatient," he said. Lt. Mengel urged drivers to plan ahead and slowing down.

Along with an increase in accidents, there is also an increase in DUI's. So far this year, Santa Maria has seen 127 DUI arrests.

That's more than double the number last year at this time.

Last week, Santa Maria had its first traffic fatality in an accident where alcohol was a factor. There were seven traffic fatalities in 2019.

Police said they'll work hard to keep that from happening again this year.

Crime / Santa Maria - North County

Anikka Abbott

Anikka Abbott is a reporter for KEYT | KCOY | KKFX.

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