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2008 Media Releases


Date:
August 21, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Greg MacLean, Public Works and Utilities, 441-7566
Virendra Singh, Engineering Services, 441-7711


TRAFFIC SAFETY PROGRAM REDUCES CRASHES IN CITY
City ranks high in Allstate’s “Best Drivers Report”

Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that despite City growth, the number of crashes reported in the City continues to decline. The Mayor released the City’s 2006 Crash Study, which showed that 7,584 crashes were reported to the Police Department that year, the lowest number since 1992.

“From 1985 to 2006, the number of vehicle miles traveled every day in Lincoln has nearly doubled from 2.25 million to 4.39 million, but the number of crashes has remained relatively stable,” said Mayor Beutler. “Our Public Works and Utilities Department works with other departments in the City on a transportation safety program that includes engineering, enforcement and education. This approach continues to be successful in reducing injuries and saving lives.” (A summary of crash statistics follows this release.)

Beutler released the study at the recently reconstructed intersection of 9th/10th and Van Dorn, where 72 crashes were reported from 2005 through 2007. More than half of those crashes involved a truck, and the public cost of the crashes is estimated at $2.29 million. The intersection now has two left-turn-only lanes for northbound traffic to turn west. Federal safety funds covered $500,000 of the $1.1 million project. The Public Works and Utilities Department (PWU) will monitor the location to determine the impact of the safety improvements.

Mayor Beutler said new data also shows that Lincoln drivers are nearly 16 percent less likely to have a collision than drivers in the rest of the country. In the fourth annual Allstate America’s “Best Drivers Report” published in July, Lincoln drivers ranked 23rd among the 200 cities evaluated nationally. The report indicates that an average driver in Lincoln experiences an auto collision every 11.9 years, compared to the national average of every 10 years.

“This year’s Priority Lincoln process indicated the importance of safety and security of our residents, and reducing traffic crashes is an important element,” Beutler said. “It is essential that we maintain and enhance Lincoln’s Transportation Safety Improvement Program to protect the families of our growing community.”

The estimated monetary loss to the public as the result of all crashes in 2006 is $185 million. This value reflects wage loss, medical and administrative expenses and property damage. It is based on conservative estimates of the National Safety Council.

PWU Director Greg MacLean said if the number of crashes had increased at the same rate as vehicle miles traveled, the City would have experienced nearly 9,400 more crashes in 2006 and nearly $229 million more in monetary loss.

“Our Transportation Safety Improvement Program, which began in 1979, has made a significant difference in the total number of crashes,” MacLean said. “But the biggest factor in keeping crashes down is the public. Every driver, pedestrian and bicyclist must place a priority on safely following the rules of the road.”

MacLean said the City uses the annual crash report to decide where to use its limited resources and to aggressively seek federal funds to implement safety improvement projects. Since 1997, the City has successfully competed for and received about $5.82 million in federal funds. Using those funds and the additional 20 percent local match, 13 local safety projects have been completed and two are pending implementation.

In 2006, the Lincoln Police Department (LPD) spent about 8,100 hours in traffic enforcement and issued an estimated 54,600 official citations and 51,100 warnings. Police Chief Tom Casady said traffic law enforcement is a major priority for LPD.

“Motor vehicle traffic crashes cause far more damage, injury and loss of life in Lincoln than all crimes combined,” Casady said. “So far this year, we have issued more than 32,000 official court citations, and nearly as many warning citations. Drunk driving arrests are up 30 percent through the first seven months of 2008. The purpose of our enforcement efforts is to reinforce compliance with the law in order to protect all citizens.”

Bruce Dart, Health Director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD), said educational efforts are coordinated by the local Safe Kids Coalition, which includes a traffic engineer from PWU and an accident investigator from LPD. Since 2003, Safe Kids has worked with 11 elementary schools, providing pedestrian safety activities to more than 3,800 students. The schools were selected based on the number of pedestrian injuries occurring near the schools. The same approach is being used with before- and after-school programs at the “F” Street Recreation Center.

“Injuries from traffic crashes are very preventable,” Dart said. “We can have the most impact by focusing on school-based pedestrian safety educational efforts in those areas identified as high-risk by the crash data.” Dart said another 2,000 children participate in bicycle safety rodeos, a collaboration of LLCHD with the Lincoln’s Kiwanis Clubs.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2006 CRASH STUDY
  2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
Fatal 9 9 6 19 11 12
Injury 1,777 1,764 1,960 1,983 2,137 2,134
Property Damage 3,709 4,212 4,496 5,728 5,048 5,420
Non-reportable* 2,089 2,556 2,582 1,670 1,664 1,717

TOTAL 7,584 8,541 9,044 9,400 8,860 9,283
* Non-reportable crashes are those in which no one was killed or injured and the estimated cost of damage is less than $1,000 (2006). That number has been adjusted through the years for inflation.

The trend for vehicle/pedestrian crashes also shows a decrease from 130 in 1985 to 89 in 2006.

Average numbers of crashes for three types of intersections:

  • Intersection of two arterial streets with a traffic signal - 10.9 crashes
  • Intersection of two arterial streets with a stop sign - 3.3 crashes
  • Intersection of two local streets with no control - 1.2 crashes

Most common type of crashes:

  • Rear end - 31 percent
  • Right angle - 16 percent
  • Parking - 14 percent

The 2006 Crash Study is available on the City Web site at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: crash).


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