The upcoming months will see Turlock’s City Engineering Department implement a multi-pronged effort at reducing the rate of traffic collisions happening in the city.
The program, which will include educational and enforcement efforts, is in reaction to a study that found Turlock has a high rate of traffic incidents, including fatalities and injuries when compared to other similar sized cities.
Earlier this year the engineering department reviewed a study from the California Office of Traffic Safety that examined traffic reports from 2013 for 103 like-sized cities and ranked them according to the rates of occurrences. Turlock was ranked 31st for collisions that resulted in fatalities or injuries, with 365 traffic collisions. For collisions involving pedestrians Turlock was 44th with 22 collisions. Turlock was 40th for collisions involving bicyclists with 28 collisions, and 42nd in collisions involving motorcycles, with 12 incidents.
The Turlock Police Department also reported an increase in traffic collisions in 2015. There were 847 accidents in Turlock, which is an increase of 2 percent from 2014. The number of non-injury accidents was at 571, for an increase of 6 percent from the year prior. There were 276 injury accidents in 2015, which is a 2 percent decrease from 2014. In 2015, Turlock saw two fatalities from traffic collisions, which is a 75 percent decrease from the year prior.
The engineering department’s Collision Reduction Strategy will be using Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation to help lower the rate of traffic incidents. In April the department will be distributing traffic safety material to the Turlock Unified School District, Sacred Heart School and Turlock Christian School, as well as to all the students, said Turlock City Engineer Mike Pitcock. The department also will identify unsafe driving habits and trends around town and present that information to driving instructors at the schools to address the problems before they become a set habit for new drivers.
April will also see the department using various platforms to promote non-motorized transportation and host community meetings in support of the Active Transportation Program. The Active Transportation Program includes projects, standards, policies and plans designed to encourage and support biking and walking in the community.
The police department also will be conducting targeted enforcement campaigns in April that focus on pedestrian and bicyclist right of way violations. The police department’s traffic study found there were 92 right of way violations cited in traffic collision reports in 2015.
The engineering department and the police department also will be meeting bi-annually for traffic safety workshops.
“What we are trying to do there is get the Traffic Safety Unit at the police department to come in and talk to us about some of the things they are seeing out there and maybe bring some more awareness to us so we can make better improvements,” Pitcock said.
The Collision Reduction Strategy was presented to the Turlock City Council on Tuesday night and the council approved moving forward with the plan by a 5-0 vote.
“I don’t think it will eliminate all traffic collisions…but it will minimize it,” said Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth.