While construction crews work across Edmond, widening roads, filling pot holes and attempting to make the roads safer and more accommodating for the ever-increasing number of cars on the city’s roads, distracted drivers, drivers following too closely, and even drivers attempting to be courteous resulted in 1,774 auto accidents in Edmond in 2018.
Seven people died in auto accidents that year, including one pedestrian and one motorcyclist, said Amy Graham, data analyst for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Comparable statistics for 2019 won’t be available until well into 2020, Graham said.
A large portion of the collisions the Edmond Police Department works are due to distracted or inattentive drivers, said Lt. Todd Strader. People in a hurry, changing lanes like they’re playing Frogger and not being aware of their bad driving habits cause the majority of wrecks and near-collisions.
During his 23 years in law enforcement, Strader’s seen all kinds of collisions and almost been the victim of an impatient lane-changer himself.
“One time, I was going south on Kelley and all of the sudden, the driver in front of me switched lanes real quick,” he said. The driver changed lanes because the car in front of him was stopped, waiting to make a left turn. This left Strader in the dangerous position of not knowing there was a stopped car directly ahead.
This is all-too-common driving behavior, Strader said.
Another common scenario Strader said the Edmond PD works several times a month is an example of inattentive driving. While stopped at a red light, drivers who are distracted may see a green light out of their peripheral vision, or notice cars nearby beginning to move. So, the driver hits the gas and rams into the car in front of them.
“You’d be surprised how often that happens,” Strader said.
Usually, he said, the driver that makes this mistake is busy on his or her cell phone at the stop light. Other distractions include eating, putting on makeup, and even reading.
Graham said records indicate that October is the worst month for crashes while February usually has the fewest. Sunday is the safest time to drive, as most crashes occur between 3 and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Road rage is factor in some crashes. Road rage has many causes, and often results in following too closely, driving erratically or tailgating. Road rage can be a serious problem for some drivers and some people would benefit from anger management therapy.
“Everybody is so impatient these days,” Strader said. “If you’re frustrated because somebody’s going too slow, just go to the next lane. Remove yourself from the situation that’s making you so upset.”
Also consider that you don’t know what is going on in the car that’s bothering you. There may be an emergency or some other situation that is causing that driver to move slowly. Or they may be distracted themselves. In any case, road rage is best alleviated by getting yourself out of that annoying situation.
Many Edmond drivers are courteous and considerate, but even this too can be a hazard.
You may think you’re being kind by leaving a gap in front of your car and waving the driver into the flow of traffic. But oftentimes, that driver can’t see into other lanes of traffic, which can result in a collision. Leaving space for people to enter traffic from a parking lot is a courteous gesture, but waving them into traffic can be a recipe for disaster.
Strader advises people to take a deep breath, leave five minutes earlier than usual, and enjoy some peaceful time while in their car as they drive. Practice patience. Turn on some music you enjoy and sing along. Listen to a podcast or talk radio. Put down your cell phone and take the time to enjoy some quiet time. Be in the moment.
“It’s not often that you can get some ‘me time’ — by yourself,” Strader said.
What you need to know
In 2008, 1,774 crashes were worked by Edmond Police Officers.
Here are some statistics from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office:
7 were fatal
20 caused serious injuries
290 caused minor injuries
278 caused possible injuries (people involved did not seek medical attention right away)
1,179 caused no reported injuries.
54 were alcohol-related
8 were drug-related
75 were speed-related
266 were caused by distracted driving
483 crashes involved teen drivers
379 involved older drivers
16 crashes involved pedestrians
24 crashes involved motorcyclists