Springfield on track to record record-breaking road fatalities again

After Springfield set a record with 27 road fatalities in 2020, Police Chief Paul Williams said he hoped it was just an anomaly linked to the pandemic.

With fewer cars on the road last year, police reported an increase in speeding and reckless driving – especially involving motorcycles.

Williams hoped the number of fatal crashes would drop to previous years as traffic returned to normal.

But that was not the case.

As of Friday, there had already been 26 fatal traffic crashes this year in Springfield with two more months before the schedules move to 2022.

“I would ask the community to slow down, not to use your phones, to be careful and to buckle up,” said Lt. Curt Ringgold of the Springfield Police Department.

Ringgold said a mix of different types of crashes contributed to deaths in the city this year, including seven crashes involving a single vehicle, six crashes involving motorcycles, four crashes involving pedestrians and two cases where someone got caught. found on the hood of a vehicle. and fell.

The police department has taken sensible approaches to address the problem, such as organizing free motorcycle safety courses for bikers and stepping up enforcement of crosswalk violations. But so far, efforts have failed to reduce the number of deaths.

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Ringgold said all free motorcycle safety courses run by the police department so far have been full (except for one in bad weather) and police have received a grant to run four more courses in the coming months.

In addition to slowing down and obeying the rules of the road, Ringgold said it is also important for motorcyclists to wear proper safety gear. He said many motorcyclists who died in crashes this year were not wearing DOT-approved helmets.

Regarding the application of crosswalks, Ringgold said the aim was to educate drivers and pedestrians – and people from both groups were fined.

“A lot of pedestrians don’t follow the best safety measures when it comes to high-visibility clothing, crossing at well-lit intersections with crosswalks,” Ringgold said. “We have had several. “

Ringgold said he hopes the crosswalk efforts will raise awareness and may lead to a drop in the number of deaths next year.

To further complicate matters for traffic officers, Ringgold said, the department is down 41 officers due to recruiting difficulties. He said it was difficult to be able to dedicate enough officers to enforcing traffic laws, and it becomes even more difficult when officers are taken off the streets for days to investigate fatal crashes.

“I don’t have the manpower to work at a constant level because there are so many of these fatalities,” he said.

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