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SLO highway patrol officers prepared for busy Memorial Day on Central Coast

Posted at 8:58 AM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 11:58:09-04

With the partial re-opening of several communities across California, including San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, California Highway Patrol expects Memorial Day to be the first big travel period since the shelter at home order took effect in March.

The Central Coast is a popular place for Memorial Day travel for its iconic beaches and warm forecast.

But travel this holiday is expected to be low nationwide, according to AAA, due to the coronavirus.

More than 43 million Americans hit the roads and boarded planes for Memorial Day weekend last year, marking the busiest travel day since triple a first recorded holiday travel in 2000.

This year, AAA didn't even release it's annual travel forecast, stating the COVID-19 health crisis "undermined economic data."

Though travel on California roads has declined since mid-March, the San Luis Obispo area highway patrol is still bracing for a heavy traffic flow.

"We are expecting a lot of traffic, frankly, I think people are tired of being penned up," CHP SLO Public Information Officer Mike Poelking said. "We'll probably see more and more traffic out there as the days progress. We'll be out there looking for what CHP always looks for: DUI, distracted driving, making sure you're properly belted and kids in the right car seats, things of that nature to make sure you get to where you are going in one piece."

The maximum enforcement period took effect Friday, meaning 80 percent of all local CHP are on patrol.

Crashes in San Luis Obispo County are down due to the stay at home order but CHP reports a dramatic increase in incidents of high speed infractions, with more motorists driving over 100 miles per hour.

Statewide, CHP reports citing 87 percent more drivers for speeding than usual since mid-March.

During that sae time period, DUI incidents were down 42 percent, CHP data shows.

The maximum enforcement period ends at midnight Monday.