Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 27, 2013

Crash rates declining in Kokomo

— Driving in Kokomo these days is safer than in the past.

And if you do get into an wreck, you are more likely to do it on a Friday, according to 2012 statistics from the Kokomo Howard County Governmental Coordinating Council.

Statistics show a 4 percent decrease in traffic crashes from 2011 to 2012 and a 3.4 percent reduction in the last five years. The stats also show drivers younger than 25 are found at fault in 28 percent of crashes, though they make up just 14 percent of the area’s population. And intersections along U.S. 31 consistently rank among the most dangerous in Kokomo, mainly due to the high rate of traffic.

The intersection of Markland Avenue and U.S. 31 remains the most perilous with 23 crashes reported in 2012. U.S. 31 and Lincoln Road ranked second with 19 crashes. The figures were down from last year’s totals of 36 and 21, respectively.

“The main reason for the reduction is economics,” said Dan Chaplin, city traffic manager. “People are not driving as often with the price of gas and fuel. They are not making as many trips. They’re making more planned trips so they can reduce gas consumption.”

Failure to yield the right-of-way, the stats show, was the cause of the majority of the wrecks at 25 percent. Driver distraction made up 5.4 percent of the causes.

“It’s pretty consistent each year,” Chaplin said of causation.

By taking out the traffic lights downtown, Chaplin said that too will cut down on crashes caused by drivers running the lights.

“Primarily with lighted intersections you have more rear-end accidents,” he said. “It will cut down on quite a few of the people who run the red lights. The four-way stops do help in that manner.”

With the completion of the new U.S. 31 bypass set for the end of this year, Chaplin said he could see accident numbers dip even more with the reduction of through traffic.

“Preliminary studies show an 8 [percent] to 14 percent reduction on U.S. 31 traffic,” he said. “That’s what I anticipate. You’ll see a reduction in truck traffic also.”

Mike Fletcher, Tribune crime reporter, may be reached at 765-454-8565, or via e-mail at mike.fletcher@kokomotribune.com.

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