There were 18 deaths due to vehicle accidents in 2008, a grim statistic considering that's nearly a 64% increase from 2007.
"Continually I hear that Abilene has the worst drivers in the state. I don't necessarily agree with that but there are times where we have to scatch our heads and wonder," says Sgt. Doug Wrenn of the Abilene Police.
Some other disappointing trends from 2008 involve motorcycle accidents. Following a nation-wide trend, motorcycle deaths increased in the past year, jumping 200% here in Abilene.
"Our motorcycle accidents did increase significantly which had been increasing from '06 and '07. I attribute this mainly to gas prices going up."
While fatal accidents did rise, it's not all bad news. Some areas, like red light accidents did drop off from the previous year.
"We also noted that red light accidents were significantly down. It dropped a total of 30%, when you look at the sheer number of collisions," explains Sgt. Wrenn.
Also, on the decline were total accidents and hit and run accidents, something Sgt. Wrenn says APD is thrilled to see. "Our total accidents went from 4200 down to 3900 accidents in the City of Abilene."
With 2009 already underway, Sgt. Wrenn is staying optimistic for better numbers, "We're optimistic about a better year in '09, [especially] coming on the heels of a good campaign in '08. We ask people to keep wearing their seat belts and pay attention."
Traffic Issues by the Numbers
(from 2007 to 2008)
Motor Vehicle Accidents= 4,269 -- 2,926 (-8.0%)
Injuries= 1,737-- 1,330 (-23.4%)
Deaths= 11 -- 18 (+63.6%)
Hit & Run= 485 -- 383 (-21.0%)
Motorcycle Accidents= 66 -- 89 (+34.8%)
Injuries= 34 -- 73 (+114.7%)
Deaths= 2 -- 6 (+200.0%)