As Memorial Day arrives, expect crime and collisions

Incidents fell last year, but the situation could change with the pandemic easing

Illustration of US flag Memorial Day



Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and with many people eager to gather with friends and family now that Los Angeles is seeing coronavirus case rates decline and vaccinations increase, something else is likely coming: a disturbing number of traffic collisions. 


In 2020, 435 collisions were reported during the four-day holiday weekend. That is a nearly 26% decline from the 585 reported in 2017, according to Los Angeles Police Department traffic data, but it also may be an aberration due to people staying home during the early months of the pandemic. From 2016-2019, there were at least 534 accidents annually over the holiday weekend.


Traffic collisions over the four-day Memorial Day holiday, 2016-2020

Bar chart of Memorial Day traffic collisions

In four out of the last five Memorial Day weekends, the highest number of collisions occurred on Friday. There were 185 on the Friday in 2019, and 119 last year.  


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Sgt. Darius Trugman, with the Los Angeles Police Department Traffic Group, said the decline in 2020 was an anomaly due to the pandemic, but added that there is also potentially less driving during the holiday weekend.


“Generally speaking, you’re finding one event or one place, a picnic, park or beach, and you’re there,” he said. “It’s less driving than when you have people during the workweek who are going to meetings and picking up kids from school.”


Trugman cautioned drivers to be safe this weekend, noting that there have been 113 fatal collisions so far this year. That is a nearly 30% increase over the 87 during the same time last year. 


Starting Friday, Trugman said the LAPD will deploy its Traffic Safety Operation Center, which shifts resources from various traffic divisions to focus on problematic areas. 


“We have a street racing task force which will be working on a variety of operations,” Trugman said. “We also have distracted driver details, DUI patrols and bike and pedestrian safety task forces set up in different areas of the city.”


Crime Concerns

The number of crimes reported in Los Angeles over the four-day Memorial Day weekend has also been fairly consistent in recent years. From 2016-2019 there were approximately 2,400 to 2,600 crimes each holiday period, according to LAPD data


Crimes reported to LAPD over the four-day Memorial Day holiday, 2016-2020

Bar chart of Memorial Day crimes

Last year, 2,170 incidents were reported over the holiday. There is the potential for the lower figures to continue, as the city has recorded a 5.5% drop in overall crime from Jan. 1-April 30 this year, compared with the same time last year.


The highest number of crimes during Memorial Day weekend last year (28%) happened at single-family homes or multi-family dwellings. There were 554 incidents that occurred on the street and 169 in a parking lot. Bodily force was used in 434 of those incidents. 


Last year, Downtown reported the highest number of incidents during the holiday weekend with 126, followed by Hollywood with 76 and Koreatown with 61.


How we did it: We examined crime and traffic data from the  Los Angeles Police Department for each Memorial Day weekend from 2016-2020. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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