If it seems like there has been an increase in vehicle crashes lately, that’s because there is. Despite the uptick, though, wrecks are actually down by a little more than 4% from a year ago, and injuries are down by nearly 9% from 2017-18, according to Paris Police Department reports.
From September 2018 to last month, there were 870 crashes within city limits. In that same time period, there were two fatal wrecks, 273 injuries and 666 property damage accidents, according to reports.
And the worst day to drive in Paris: Tuesday. Reports show the highest number of crashes, 157 on average, occur on Tuesdays.
Looking over the reports, Police Chief Bob Hundley said there has been no correlation between the incidents. He did name several hot spot areas: the 500 block of Northwest Loop 286, the Home Depot area, which is also on the loop, and a recent spike in the Northeast Plaza area. Summer construction also led to several wrecks, he said.
“People are creatures of habit, especially when they drive,” he said. “Minor wrecks, someone rear-ending another, is pretty typical of construction.”
Hundley said distracted driving is usually to blame for wrecks — messing with the music, texting or just driving without paying attention.
“Driving is a pycho-motor skill, a very practiced habit,” he said. “It’s a very auto function.”
Uncontrolled intersections and speed change zones are also problematic, no matter where the location, he said.
Paris’ overall decrease in crashes is in line with statewide numbers. The 2018 statewide fatality rate was 1.29 deaths per hundred million vehicle miles traveled — a 5.84% decrease from 2017, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. There was also a decrease in fatalities: 3,639, or a decrease of 2.36% from the 3,727 deaths recorded in 2017.
But one thing that has increased is roadway use. Annual vehicle miles traveled in Texas during 2018 reached 282 billion, an increase of 3.31%. In a previous article for The Paris News, local insurance agent Misty Vaughn noted an increase in the number of drivers on the road, which she credited to lower gas prices over the years and a healthy economy, as that stimulates consumers to spend and travel more.
“It used to cost a lot more to fill up your car, so if people needed a loaf of bread or something, they would just wait until they needed to go out for something else,” she said previously. “Now, they can just fill up the car and go.”
TxDOT provides safe driving tips on its website. It recommends being courteous to other drivers; always using a seatbelt; driving a safe speed; and adjusting based upon traffic, road and weather conditions and passing carefully.
Regardless of road conditions or experience, drivers should always remain alert, Hundley said.
“You’ve got about one and a half to two tons of metal going down the road, and there’s a certain amount of kinetic force involved,” he said. “If you’re not in control, something else will stop it.”