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Community Safety
News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Springfield Crashes Down So Far in 2014, Distracted Driving Concerns Remain

Christopher Akins, City of Springfield

The first three quarters of 2014 produced improved crash numbers for the City of Springfield. But as KSMU’s Briana Simmons reports, high traffic volume coupled with distracted driving continues to be a dangerous mix.

Springfield intersections with the highest traffic volume and crash rates are Battlefield Rd. & Campbell Ave, Battlefield Rd. & National Ave, Campbell Ave & Sunshine St., and National Ave & Sunshine St. 

Mandy Buettgen-Quinn, safety engineer for the City of Springfield, says officials find that 90 percent of crashes at high volume intersections were rear-end collisions.

“Basically, people are distracted or they’re going too fast on the major intersections and there are usually driveways on either side where people are turning in and out of so there’s a lot going on,” Buettgen-Quinn said.

She says many of today’s drivers are distracted by technology.

“I would encourage people to drive defensively; that includes to not be distracted by cell phones or anything else going on in the vehicle and another important thing to really consider is to just slow down and take extra time when making a right turn, and be sure the person in front of you is going to merge into traffic smoothly,” Buettgen-Quinn said. 

Despite concerns at high volume intersections, a crash report released this week cites a 14 percent decrease in overall crashes from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 compared to 2013 figures over that same span. The report notes 1,259 injury crashes in the first nine months of 2014, also a decrease, and one more traffic fatality so far this year.

The year-to-date figures were listed in the first of a now monthly traffic safety report to be provided by Springfield Public Works. It’s an attempt to provide statistics, but also increase awareness about traffic safety issues and the department’s traffic safety programs.

Buettgen-Quinn says educating drivers is key in creating safer roadways.

“To drive home to people that they need to drive attentively and not be distracted and also slow down when they get to those major intersections even if they do have the green light it’s a good idea to be on full alert,” Buettgen-Quinn said. 

Halloween is the most dangerous time for child pedestrians because it invites so many trick-or-treaters onto the streets of Springfield. October’s public safety report encourages drivers to slow down and watch out for kids as they enjoy the fall festivities.