November 26, 2012

Holiday traffic collisions and DUIs increase in Merced County

The number of traffic collisions and drunk-driving arrests in Merced County spiked this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to CHP reports.

CHP in Merced County reported a total of 17 DUI arrests this year, compared to seven during the same period last year.

The Merced-area office also reported 18 traffic collisions this year, an increase from last year’s nine collisions, according to officer John Patterson.

CHP in Los Banos did not report an increase in DUI arrests; they had 3 arrests for both 2011 and 2012, according to officer Matt Pinero.

However, the number of traffic collisions in the CHP Los Banos jurisdiction — from I-5 in Stanislaus county to Panoche Road in Fresno — decreased from 15 collisions last year to six this year.

No fatal collisions were reported for both CHP agency’s jurisdiction this year or last year.

DUI arrests were down for the CHP’s Central Division, which spans north to Modesto and south to Bakersfield. In that area, there were 128 DUI arrests this year, compared to 172 in 2011.

However, the number of fatal accidents increased, according to officer Matt Radke. There were four deaths from fatal collisions this year, compared to two fatal collisions and three deaths last year.

Statewide DUI arrests by the CHP decreased, but the number of fatalities went up.

There were 1,320 DUI arrests this year, compared to 1,475 in 2011. The CHP reported 44 people died in fatal collisions in the state this year, with 25 of those in the CHP’s jurisdiction. Of those deaths, ten people were not wearing seatbelts.

There were 32 fatal collisions last year during the same period.

The CHP maximum enforcement period runs from 6 p.m. Wednesday evening through Sunday at midnight.

-- Ramona Giwargis

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