No fatalities occurred on Plumas County highways and roads during the Fourth of July weekend, according to the Quincy Area California Highway Patrol.
It was a full enforcement weekend, said Lt. Erik Egide from the Quincy Area CHP. And officers handled the influx of campers, sightseers, visitors and High Sierra Music Festival participants with its own staff, he added. No staff from outside the area was required.
But arrests were way up for the four-day period compared to 2018 and 2017. This year the CHP totaled 14 arrests, compared to just three last year, and six the previous year.
Including arrests by officers with the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office, the four-day weekend totaled 36. In 2018, there were 19 arrests and 25 arrests in 2017.
No fatal collisions occurred during the previous two years either.
And no fatalities were reported in the CHP area from Alturas to Yreka. Quincy Area’s 14 are included in the 60 arrests in those same areas. Nineteen arrests were reported in 2018, and 71 in 2017.
The Quincy Area CHP did report the most arrests by far, according to their own statistics in the area offices included in the report. The Garberville Area CHP was next with seven arrests.
Most arrests in the Quincy Area CHP were for driving under the influence. Looking for DUIs was a priority, Egide explained. “Our maximum enforcement period was with a goal of looking for drunk drivers and getting them off the roads.”
While a number of collisions were reported, most involved property damage and not injuries, Egide said.
One exception occurred toward the end of the enforcement period Monday, July 8. The driver of a vehicle, who was charged with DUI, failed to notice a traffic stop in a construction zone in Chilcoot on Highway 70. That resulted in major injuries for a flag person who was hit by one of the vehicles involved in the crash.
For misdemeanors and infraction cases there is a construction zone enhancement that doubles fines, according to District Attorney David Hollister. If the driver involved in the Chilcoot incident goes to court that could be considered a felony DUI.
Thirty-two people were killed during this year’s July 4 enforcement period on California highways and roads. That’s up from 11 last year, but the enforcement period was also shorter, according to the state CHP records.
In 2017, 47 people died.
Thirty-four percent of those who were killed in collisions this year were not wearing their seatbelts.
“Speed kills,” said CHP Officer Cynthia White. “We try to reduce the mileage death rate by having these I-80 challenges, having these (maximum enforcement periods) and make sure that everyone in the motoring public gets home from their destination.”
Besides paying close attention for those who might be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination, the CHP is also on the lookout for distracted drivers.
These are often drivers who use a hand held cell phone while operating a vehicle. But there are other forms of distracted driving.
“Makeup is a huge thing for females,” White explained. “And men shaving, that’s another distraction. When you’re driving, we just ask that you drive. Make sure that everyone gets home safely.”
Drivers in California apparently didn’t heed last year’s safer driving records.
More than 1,300 DUI arrests were made throughout California by the CHP. That’s compared to just 389 last year.