News 5 Investigates

Oct 22, 2013 9:35 PM by Andy Koen

News 5 Investigates: CDOT tracks spike in accidents

COLORADO SPRINGS - Traffic accident data gathered by the Colorado Department of Transportation suggest a tipped over tractor trailer that slowed traffic along Interstate 25 in Colorado Springs this morning is part of a larger trend.

The trucked tipped on its side just before 9:00 a.m. as is passed out of the Motor City curve toward Cimarron. The driver suffered minor injuries and was cited for careless driving.

Between January and June, there were 18 accidents in the northbound lanes of I25 near Cimarron. That number is almost twice as high as the 10 accidents that happened during the same months in 2011 and 2012.

It's a different story for drivers heading south. During those same time periods, the number of accidents was cut in half from 15 to just 7 this year.

Department spokesperson Bob Wilson said the increase in accidents for northbound drivers is concerning.

"It pushes us toward further analyses to see is there something more that we can do to that area on Interstate 25," Wilson said.

Last March, traffic engineers repainted lane designation lines and put in signs with flashing lights north of Cimarron to warn drivers to slow down. However, Wilson cautioned that may be too soon to tell whether the changes are helping or hurting.

"A lot of times (the data) can be based on driver behavior, or it can also be due to road conditions whether there was adverse weather," Wilson said. "It doesn't give us that particular information."

Seasoned truck drivers, like Leonard Thomas have a simpler explanation: speed.

"They've redone these roads, the engineering has been changed, more bells and whistles and lights than you can shake a stick at, but people still tend to ignore those things," Thomas said. "When you talk about heavy trucks or professional drivers, there's no excuse."

Thomas, who is the training director at the United States Truck Driving School, wants his students to always put safety first.

"My biggest thing is to instill a sense of highway safety into these people because that's the bottom line."

The CDOT data set also showed a reduction in number people injured in those traffic accidents. Eight were injured in the 2011 accidents as compared to three last year. The data set was limited to just a six month period to give an even comparison across the three years.

Accidents on I25 at Cimarron
Northbound  Jan-Jun 2011 Jan-Jun 2012 Jan-Jun 2013
Total Accidents 10 10 18
Injury Accidents 2 (7 people injured) 2 (2 people injured) 1 (1 person injured)
Southbound Jan-Jun 2011  Jan-Jun 2012  Jan-Jun 2013
Total Accidents 15 15 7
Injury Accidents 1 (1 person injured) 1 (1 person injured) 0
  Souce:    Colorado  Department of Transportation



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