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A Coronavirus Plus: Wide-Open Highways In Los Angeles

The traffic jams of Los Angeles are legendary, with cars often inching along for miles, bumper to bumper.

But you can add LA gridlock to the long list of things that the coronavirus pandemic has changed.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Thursday there were 59% fewer accidents between the first half of March and the two weeks since March 19, when the municipal government ordered people to stay home and limit outside activity to only the essentials.

Garcetti urged Angelinos not to be tempted to speed through the city's newly empty streets — and he announced a measure to make it harder for them to do so.

"We're acting to make our roads even safer by setting traffic lights to a late-night schedule with more frequent red lights to slow drivers down," he told a news conference.

"There are a lot more people walking and biking and just because there isn't traffic, that's not an excuse to break the speed limit."

In recent days, the Central Los Angeles branch of the California Highway Patrol has been tweeting images of wrecked vehicles and imploring people to slow down.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

John Ruwitch is a correspondent with NPR's international desk. He covers Chinese affairs.