Fewer traffic deaths across Southern California in days leading up to New Year

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San Francisco police officers check drivers at a sobriety checkpoint.

The new year got off to a good start on Southern California’s highways, with fewer traffic deaths in the days leading up to the first day of 2013.

The California Highway Patrol said there were 19 people killed from traffic accidents statewide, from the night of Dec. 28 to the morning of Jan. 1. The deaths were six fewer than last year.

In Los Angeles County, the CHP reported no traffic-related deaths, but outside of its jurisdiction a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car on PCH near Malibu early Tuesday.

CHP Officer Tatiana Sauquillo said fatalities are down because CHP stepped up patrols and more people are taking the message about drinking and driving to heart.

“They’re reading the signs that we have on the road as far as drunk drivers go,” Sauquillo said.

DUI arrests remained about the same as last year, with roughly 1,300 arrests statewide.

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