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Mayor's Office

2007 Media Releases


Date:
August 9, 2007
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Virendra Singh, Engineering Services, 441-7711


TRAFFIC SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS REDUCE CRASHES IN CITY

Attached Letter

Mayor Chris Beutler today said traffic safety improvements have led to a decrease in crashes in Lincoln. Beutler and the City Public Works and Utilities Department today released the results of the 2005 crash study for the City. The City experienced 8,539 crashes in 2005, the lowest number since 1992. Despite an increase in population and vehicle miles traveled, the number of crashes in the City has not increased.

Beutler released the study at a news conference at the roundabout at 33rd Street and Sheridan Boulevard. The Federal Highway Administration is submitting the project for the 2007 National Roadway Safety Awards. (See attached letter above.)

"Over the last 20 years, the number of vehicle miles traveled every day in Lincoln has gone from 2.18 million to 4.27 million, but the number of crashes has remained flat," said Mayor Beutler. "The annual crash study shows us that the traffic safety improvements that have been implemented are making a difference in reducing injuries and saving lives. The study also gives us the data we need to decide where our limited resources can best be used in the future."

The following table shows the City crash statistics over time:

  2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000
Fatal 9 6 19 11 12 11
Injury 1,764 1,960 1,983 2,137 2,134 2,148
Property damage 4,211 4,496 5,728 5,048 5,420 5,242
Non-reportable* 2,555 2,582 1,670 1,664 1,717 1,850
TOTAL 8,539 9,044 9,400 8,860 9,283 9,251

* Non-reportable crashes are those in which no one was killed or injured and the estimated cost of damage is less than $975 (2005). That number has been adjusted through the years for inflation.

The number of vehicle/bicycle crashes has decreased from 166 in 1985 to 115 in 2005. The number of vehicle/pedestrian crashes has decreased from 130 in 1985 to 81 in 2005.

The estimated monetary loss to the public as a result of all crashes in 2005 is $180 million. That reflects wage loss, medical and administrative expenses and property damage and is based on conservative estimates of the National Safety Council.

Public Works and Utilities Director Karl Fredrickson said the City has had a Traffic Safety Improvement Program since 1979, which focuses on engineering, education, enforcement and evaluation.

“If the number of crashes had increased at the same rate as vehicle miles traveled, the City would have seen nearly 8,000 more accidents in 2005 and nearly $87 million more in monetary loss,” said Fredrickson. “Our safety improvements have definitely made a big difference, but the best crash prevention is always a responsible driver who obeys the traffic laws and drives defensively.”

Fredrickson said the City aggressively seeks federal funds for safety projects. Since 1997, the City has obtained more than $4 million for 11 separate safety projects.

“Before and after” studies were conducted at 12 high-crash intersections to estimate the effectiveness of safety improvements. Crashes decreased more than 80 percent at seven of the intersections. The study showed a net annual benefit of $3.5 million and that the benefits of reducing crashes exceed implementation costs at a majority of locations.

Fredrickson said another finding is that adding more traffic controls does not always result in crash reduction. Below are the average numbers of 2005 crashes for three types of intersections:

  • Intersection of two arterial streets with a traffic signal - 11.8 crashes
  • Intersection of two arterial streets with a stop sign - 2.8 crashes
  • Intersection of two local streets with no control device - 1.2 crashes

The most common type of crash was rear-end collisions, which accounted for nearly 31 percent of all crashes. The major intersections with the most number of crashes in 2005 were:

  • 48th and "O" Streets (improvements completed in fall 2006)
  • 56th Street and Highway 2 (part of the Highway 2 Corridor Study)
  • 40th Street and Pine Lake Road (now open to four-way traffic)
  • 27th and "O" streets (improvements implemented in July 2004)
  • 70th and "A" streets

The entire 2005 crash study is available on the City Web site at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: crash05).


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