Increase safety at intersections, reduce number of collisions

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Sir: Where in Chatham are you most likely to be hit by or run into another vehicle – bus, truck, car, motorcycle or bicycle?

Looking at collisions reported by Chatham Police Services from 2002 to 2012, Grand Avenue has by far the most collisions – 985 in those years. The next closest are Lacroix/Sandys (513) Keil Drive (481), St Clair (477) and McNaughton (466).

But wait – Grand Avenue is also the longest street on that list. What’s the collision risk comparison per kilometre? The risk rating changes to: Keil Drive, 172 collisions per kilometre; Grand Avenue, 164 collisions per kilometre; Queen Street, 132 collisions per kilometre; St Clair Street, 127 collisions per kilometre; King Street, 118 collisions per kilometre and Lacroix/Sandys,  106 collisions per kilometre. McNaughton from Michener to Bear Line is a long street, so it drops to 94 collisions per kilometre.

So what? Many municipalities require their transportation/engineering department to report these statistics and say they are going to do to make the worst locations safer. What are we doing about that in Chatham-Kent?

In Chatham, 38 of these collisions were reported as causing fatal injuries.

So, 1558 Chatham collisions resulted in “non-fatal injuries.” Only injuries requiring medical attention are reported, so minor cuts and bruises don’t make the list.

As well, 5,295 Chatham collisions were reported as “property damage only.” To qualify for a report, property damage has to be at least $1,000. A pretty good bike can be destroyed and not qualify for reporting.

Furthermore, 565 Chatham collisions were classified as “non-reportable,” “other,” or were not classified.

About 60% of these collisions are reported as being at intersections. If we could make it safer to get from a side street onto an arterial (main) street, a lot of these collisions wouldn’t happen.

Where are the most dangerous intersections? The largest number of reported collisions are at: Keil at Richmond (140), Grand at St. Clair (134), Grand at Lacroix (129), McNaughton at St. Clair (125), Lacroix at Richmond (123), Grand At Keil (121), and Park Avenue at Queen (100).

Collisions reported in Chatham (excluding pedestrian hits) for the 11-year period of 2002-2012 totalled 7,445. Pedestrian hits (163, including five fatalities) bring the total to 7,608 – just under two reportable collisions per day.

Many communities find that if they cross-check police reports against hospital records, they discover that there are many instances where a person involved in a collision is rushed to emergency but is not picked up in a police report. The reported numbers should therefore be considered as underreporting the actual frequency of collisions.

Let’s make use of the available data to reduce the carnage on our streets.

 John Sigurjonsson

Chatham

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