Friday, September 03, 2010

Safer driving in Charlotte? Or just less driving?

The city of Charlotte's annual study of High Accident Locations found an overall drop of 26 percent in total number of collisions in the city for 2009, compared with 2008, with fatal collisions down 5 percent.

Are we safer drivers? Would that were so. The Charlotte Department of Transportation memo to the City Council says, "While the total numbers of collisions vary from year to year, CDOT attributes some reduction in collisions to reductions also seen in vehicle miles travelled. This is a trend occurring across the country."

The top two causes for accidents? Inattention (cited 22.4 percent of the time) and "Failure to Reduce Speed" (cited 18.9 percent of the time). Alcohol use is the cause of 1.67 percent of the accidents. So while I applaud the police efforts to keep people from drinking and driving, it would seem that a far more effective way to reduce accidents and their costs (in human deaths, injuries, lost productivity and costs to those involved) would be to crack down on speeding.

Of course, I suspect that, like many drivers, some police officers just don't think speeding is a very big deal. One example among many I've : The other night in the 35 mph section of Providence Road a patrol car blew past me. I sped up to see its speed: 55 mph. No siren, no blue lights, and a mile farther down the road (I had slowed back to the speed limit by then but a traffic light had slowed the cars ahead of me) the police car was just cruising along, not appearing to be heading to any crime scene.

Here's the most recent accident report. And here's a link to the previous year's report (on 2008 accidents).

Have a great Labor Day weekend, and drive safely.


Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

I'm never surprised by a police officer's disregard for the laws they've sworn to protect. As a police officer once told me, "If I hadn't joined the force I would have ended up in jail." And a lawyer once told me, "The only difference between a criminal and a police officer is a uniform."

All stereotyped jokes aside, I wonder what's caused the reduction in vehicle miles traveled? Gas prices are pretty much as high as they've ever been, and our mass transit doesn't serve enough areas to make it a viable alternative.

So, I suppose, it is driven (excuse the pun) by employment? Fewer people are employed, so there are fewer commuters.

john huson said...

I'm not sure of the exact source but the figures are accurate: The number of autos owned has been growing at twice the rate of our population increase. The number of miles driven at three time the population.

Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

Sorry this isn't on point Mary, but I found it really interesting. The new "Infrastructure Bank" for funding infrastructure projects that hopefully will take some of the politics out of transportation projects.

Anonymous said...


Government loan guarantees are what led to the Wall Street and housing meltdowns.

The "infrastructure bank" is nothing more than a slush fund for politically-connected construction corporations and union bosses.

Anonymous said...

One argument the cops might make about cracking down on speeding is, who you going to pull over? Something happens to people once they pull their vehicles onto Independence Blvd - they suddenly think they are Jeff Gordon or Danica Patrick or some other racing competitor. How is a cop going to pick who to pull over for speeding there?

Inattention would probably be better to attack. An absolute ban on all handheld communication devices would be a good start. There are way too many people yakking away and/or texting while paying little or no attention to their surroundings.