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Snapshots of Car Crash Trends in Connecticut — And Branford

Branford recorded 718 accidents in 2011.

This post was reported and written by Field Editor Jayme Kunze.

What does a typical car accident in Branford look like?

According to the state Department of Transportation, Branford car crashes and those across the state have a pretty predictable formula.

In 2011, most of the 78,437 crashes were caused by:
  • Following too closely - 26,553 accidents - 33.85 percent
  • Failure to grant right of way - 10,595 accidents - 13.51 percent
  • Driver lost control - 9,613 accidents - 12.26 percent
  • Speed too fast for the conditions - 5,919 accidents -  7.55 percent
Branford can claim responsibility for 718, totaling .92 percent of those 2011 crashes.

DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick stressed that almost every single crash in the state could be prevented with better driving.

“They all come back to the same thing, which is motorist or driver error,” Nursick said. 

“I think that's fundamentally the problem when it comes to crashes. Even if there is a slippery surface, drivers should know the speed limit is irrelevant and should drive at speeds appropriate to the condition.”

Perhaps surprising to some, the DOT recorded that 98.58 percent of drivers involved in crashes had no indications of drug or alcohol involvement. A total of 209, or .27 percent, of Connecticut car accidents in 2011 also caused a fatality, according to the DOT report.

Is Connecticut driving more safely?

It seems counterintuitive with the number of drivers one may see steering with cell phone in hand, but Connecticut roads may be getting safer.

The number of Connecticut car accidents has decreased from 103,711 in 2009 to 78,437 in 2011.

"We've had a few vacillations the last couple of years,” said Nursick. “That same drop in accidents has occurred in many state across the country. No one has a definitive answer as to why that happened.”

However, Nursick attributes the decline in crashes in the 16- to 18-year-old crowd to teenage driving laws.

The teenage drivers, who have been subject to driving restrictions since 2008, were responsible for 5.64 percent of the state’s accidents in 2009, a rate that dropped to 4.5 in 2011.

"The graduated drivers license system is definitely having an impact,” Nursick said. "That was a great step taken by the legislature to try to curb some of those crashes."

The DOT data also shows that more drivers have been using seat belts, climbing from 79.96 percent in 2009 to 82.16 percent in 2011.

Nursick added that traffic law enforcement and DOT engineering are the second and third parts of the safety equation needed to prevent car crashes. While he continued to stress driver safety, he added that the DOT is constantly evaluating roads and looking for accident trends in case an engineering solution could save lives.

“If we see patterns or trends, such as left-hand turn crashes at a certain intersection, we will initiate projects to try to reduce those crash numbers despite the fact that they will be driver error related,” he said.

DOT Driving Tidbits

Some more interesting facts from the DOT report:
  • Metal beam guard rails are the most commonly hit stationary objects; banks, ledges and rocks take second place.
  • Most Connecticut collisions (37.32 percent) are rear-ended crashes. Jack-knife crashes are the least common.
  • In 2011, Fairfield County had the most car crashes; 21,051 or 26.84 percent of all accidents
  • January was the month with the highest number of car accidents in 2011: 10,786
  • And the most crashes occurred on Fridays: 13,898
The 2011 state DOT car accident report is attached above.

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