Traffic crashes decrease by 34% on city streets

Posted: February 19, 2014

The Winchester Star

Traffic moves along at Pleasant Valley Road and Jubal Early Drive, one of Winchester’s busiest intersections. In 2013, 354 crashes were reported in the city — a four-year low. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
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WINCHESTER — City police are crediting enforcement and public-education efforts for a 34 percent decrease in traffic crashes from 2012 to 2013.

“Over the past three years, officers have performed some of the highest enforcement efforts in the department’s history,” said Lauren Cummings, spokeswoman for the Police Department.

One of the most concentrated efforts has been to reduce drinking and driving — which, statistically, was at a four-year low in the city.

Just one alcohol-related crash involving injury occurred in 2013, compared to 13 in 2012 and 10 each in 2010 and 2011.

“We have a [state Department of Motor Vehicles] grant that allows us to have extra patrols during high traffic times of the year,” Cummings said, adding that it will continue this year.

She added that she believes drivers know they will be caught if they drink and drive. “Word on the street is, ‘You don’t drink and drive in the city.’”

In 2013, 354 crashes were reported — another four-year low for the city — compared to 533 in 2012, 499 in 2011 and 464 in 2010, according to statistics released by the department.

Cummings did not know why 2012’s numbers were so high, and said she could not speculate. “We can’t pinpoint anything.”

Just one fatal crash has occurred in the city during the last four years, and Cummings described it as an anomaly.

Leslie Wylie, 31, of Knoxville, Tenn., pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter stemming from the 2012 crash that killed local teacher Amber Lucchiani.

The crash took place at about 10:30 a.m. on July 12 when Wylie crossed the grassy median on Jubal Early Drive.

Regarding the drop in crashes in 2013, Cummings said the department urged officers to give drivers warnings in an effort to educate them about better habits, rather than just writing tickets.

Texting and driving and distracted driving were a major focus last year, Cummings said.

She applauded the public for heeding officers’ warnings and taking the department’s messages to heart.

“We’re really pleased with these statistics,” Cummings added. “One accident is too many in our eyes — we will continue to do our part to ensure everyone’s safety.”

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com