Crash numbers in the City of Edmond have declined from 1,528 in 2006 to 1,419 in 2013, police said.
While that decrease in crashes heartens police officials, they admit there’s more work to be done. In 2013 there were more traffic fatalities in Edmond than homicides, police said. Five people lost their lives in crashes on Edmond streets while the city enjoyed a homicide-free year in 2013.
Police Sgt. Acey Hopper said Edmond Police Department enforcement efforts and creative strategies are behind the decrease in the number of crashes, which occurred while the city’s population was rising and agency resources have not kept pace comparatively. Edmond’s population is now more than 82,000 residents.
Tom Minnick, traffic planner for the city’s Engineering Department, said those realities make the reduction more impressive than it sounds numerically. Minnick said the Police Department’s efforts and other action like the city’s use of access management are making a difference for residents and motorists.
Historically, the top intersections for collisions in the city include:
• Second Street and Bryant,
• 33rd Street and Broadway,
• Danforth and Kelly,
• Danforth and Santa Fe,
• 15th Street and Santa Fe and
• West Edmond Road and Santa Fe.
Of those six intersections, three of them are on the city’s top 10 busiest intersections list as well. Broadway and 33rd Street was the busiest intersection in the city for 2013 with 65,328 vehicles traveling through it on average daily, according to the city manager’s office.
Hopper said generally speaking at about 8 a.m. Monday-Friday the number of crashes in the city begin to steadily increase and they begin to drop after 8 p.m.
The main causes of crashes are excessive speed, inattentive driving and motorists following too close. Hopper said fewer crashes mean less financial pain for motorists regarding issues including repairs and medical expenses.
Speed limits are set to help drivers understand the dangers of each road and to inform drivers of the legal maximum speed above which the risks to the driver and other road users are too great to accept, Hopper said.
Greater speed increases both the thinking distance and the braking distance, he said. A driver traveling at faster speeds will have covered more ground between spotting a hazard and reacting to it.
One of the Edmond Police Department’s strategies responsible for the decline is targeted traffic enforcement based on where crashes occur most often statistically in the city, Hopper said.
In recent months, the Police Department has been purposefully advertising in advance where they will be keeping an eye on motorists. In January, it was Second Street between Broadway and Interstate 35 and 15th Street between Bryant and Kelly.
Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said the agency won’t officially determine March locations until it sees how February shakes out. It appears the focus still will be on Second Street and West Edmond Road, especially from Broadway to Bryant. Also, 15th Street near Bryant likely will be a focus, Monroe said.
In tandem with police efforts, the city’s Engineering Department has sought new solutions to better manage traffic in Edmond. Some of those solutions include new though processes in how certain types of infrastructure are designed.
Access management, initiated in Edmond during the early 2000s, increases roadway capacity, manages congestion and reduces crashes through steps that include the addition of street medians and increasing the amount of space between residential driveways, Minnick said.
The first project was on Boulevard south of 33rd Street, he said. Other work has been done along 15th Street west of the railroad tracks, on Kelly Avenue and on Covell Avenue. Medians mean more street lighting, which increases night visibility, and other aesthetics like landscaping.
“It’s a good thing that our two departments are working together to make our streets safer,” Minnick said.
More help is on the way for Edmond motorists in the near future. The city is still working to implement the first phase of its new Intelligent Traffic System. ITS is a fiber-optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, archiving data and predicting traffic volume. Surveillance cameras would be placed at key intersections to help traffic planners.
The first segment is set for Second Street from Santa Fe Avenue to east of I-35, consisting of 19 signalized intersections at a minimum $1.5 million price tag. Two other phases are called for, each taking a year to complete, at an additional estimated price tag of $6.5 million, according to previous reports in The Sun.
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