As people began to stay home in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reported traffic collisions went down by about 50% compared to last year, according to data from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
That data was gathered before the sheriff’s office switched in early April to “accident alert,” a system in which residents can file many of their collision reports online and deputies do not respond. Crash data from April was not yet available at the time of publishing.
“I absolutely love that part of this,” traffic Sgt. Brian Cogil said about the reduction.
These crashes include rear-end collisions, hit-and-runs, pedestrian-involved crashes and anything else involving a motor vehicle, Cogil said. It doesn’t include state highways or roads inside municipalities.
“It’s fantastic seeing the reduction in crashes,” he said. “That’s a trend we’ve always wanted to see.”
While traffic has increased since the county moved into the safer-at-home stage April 27, it hasn’t yet returned to normal, Cogil said.
Cogil and his deputies are still seeing increased speeds from the cars that are out, he said. That’s one trend he finds concerning.
“It’s easier to gain speed on the open roadways,” he said. “People need to really pay attention to their speedometer whether there’s traffic or nobody around ... if we catch you, you’re going to get a ticket.”
As the public health orders continue, aimed at reducing COVID-19 transmission, Cogil and his team are working to find ways to adapt and prepare for the ever-evolving situation.
“We’re trying to come up with ways that we can still do our job and do it effectively,” he said. “But also limit our contact.”
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