SoCal traffic getting busier as businesses and schools reopen

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A year ago as the pandemic spread quickly we had wide open freeways, with not many cars on the road.

Traffic however has been increasing over the last few months.

"Things are definitely picking back up with restrictions being lifted, schools being open back up. We're seeing a lot of people going back to their daily commute most definitely," says Amber Wright from the CHP.

Dwight Glenn drives from Palmdale to Santa Clarita and sees the difference every morning.

"We were just in traffic from Palmdale to here and that took us about an hour," says Glenn.

According to data from traffic analytics company INRIX, traffic in the LA metro area has hovered around 80% of pre-pandemic levels since about the end of June. In the last few weeks of February it looks like there's been a spike, pushing traffic to nearly 90% of pre-pandemic levels.

The only other time it's gotten that high since the pandemic started was on Nov. 25 right before Thanksgiving.

The Auto Club of Southern California says people aren't traveling by plane as much so expect more traffic as many hit the road for spring break or summer.

Doug Shupe from AAA says: "A lot of folks are looking at their vehicles to take that old-fashioned American road trip, and so with the increased demand for fuel at the pumps here in sunny California that puts upward pressure on the prices."

Shupe says we're already seeing higher prices for that reason and because the summer-blend fuel, which is more expensive, is already making its way to the gas pumps.

The CHP says there was a drop in traffic accidents during the pandemic since there were fewer cars. But as traffic picks up people need to adjust and be careful.

"Commute time is definitely increasing," Wright says. "It's not uncommon for people to be a little more on edge because of the traffic."
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