INDIANAPOLIS — The number of traffic fatalities, intoxicated driving cases and speeding tickets in Indiana all seem to be trending downward from last year. However, one committee says there is an important caveat throwing a wrench into a seemingly positive report.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, or ICJI, presented at Wednesday’s Roads and Transportation Interim Study Committee meeting.
The ICJI said that although the number of traffic deaths is currently 10% lower than last year, Indiana is still on track to have a substantial increase in traffic fatalities overall.
Committee Chairman and State Senator Michael Crider said distracted driving and speeding are the key factors behind most fatal crashes.
“I think it’s really difficult to take a snapshot of the data,” Crider said.
Crider’s co-chair, State Rep. Jim Pressel, said a shortage of roughly 200 Indiana State Police personnel on the roads is what’s behind a 30,000 decrease in OWI violations, and a nearly 50,000 decrease in speeding violations.
“That number is down, and is trending down,” he said. “But I think it’s a false down.”
According to Pressel, the Indiana Dept. of Transportation is pushing for 30 “Conflict Resolution” or “J-turn” intersections as a solution to decrease speeding violations in problem areas.
”They’re about three million dollars per intersection is the number that they used compared to a $25 million dollar interchange,” Pressel said.
Crider said while there is evidence these interchanges work, robust local discussions with INDOT are needed.
”There’s a lot of resistance amongst the local officials, even some school officials around school buses navigating through those,” Crider said.
This comes as the AARP of Indiana said it is pushing lawmakers to create a “Vision Zero” task force along with INDOT as it works to reach a goal of zero traffic fatalities.
”That would allow other stakeholders, the INDOT, transportation agencies and local communities to sort of have a say,” Ambre Marr, the State Executive Director of AARP Indiana, said.