At least 13 people died in traffic accidents on California streets and highways during the first 12 hours of the Thanksgiving Day weekend, compared to three fatalities during the same period last year, the California Highway Patrol said Thursday.
Drunk-driving arrests also were up in the period, beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday and ending at 6 a.m. Thursday. Last year, there were 420 arrests in the 12-hour period, compared to 503 this year, said CHP spokesman Robert Strong.
There were no traffic fatalities in Orange County during the holiday. A CHP dispatcher said traffic was heavy on most freeways in the county since late Wednesday night. Early Thursday, motorists encountered congestion in both directions of the Santa Ana and Riverside freeways, but the roads were clear by early afternoon, the dispatcher said.
"It's been unusually quiet for a holiday," he said. "We're counting our blessings."
Six of this holiday's deaths occurred on roads and freeways in CHP jurisdiction. "All the people who died were not wearing seat belts," said Strong.
The other deaths occurred in local jurisdictions not patrolled by the CHP. One woman was killed when her compact car collided with a tanker-truck on the Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach and burst into flames, police said.
Witnesses said the unidentified woman's car ran a red light at Santa Fe Avenue early Thursday morning and hit a truck filled with gasoline that was headed east on the coast road. The woman was trapped in her car and burned to death, police said.