TRAFFIC DEATHS ON UPSWING
Manteca fatalities ahead of last year with just over six months into 2019
More people have died on the streets of Manteca in accidents over the past decade than have been victims of a homicide.
There have been 24 traffic deaths on Manteca surface streets since 2010 as opposed to 21 homicides. More than a third of Manteca’s traffic deaths involve pedestrians being killed.
The accident death tally does not include deaths on the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 given they are within the state’s jurisdiction. The 120 Bypass death tally since 2010 has reached 20 people primarily in the eastbound lanes between Main Street and the Highway 99 transition ramps.
After traffic deaths being on the decline for the two previous years they are now on an upswing. There have been four traffic deaths through mid-July this year. Two of those that have been killed are pedestrians. The number of injury accidents so far this year is now at 136. There have been 12 injury accidents involving bicyclists.
Last year there were 223 injury accidents with three deaths including a bicyclist. In 2018 there were 19 collisions where a pedestrian, skateboarder or scooter rider was involved. That is in addition to 23 collisions involving a bicyclist.
Manteca Police have indicated the primary causes for collisions on city streets are due to drivers making unsafe turning movements, right of way violations, speed violations, inattention and/or distracted driving, as well as impairment due to drugs/alcohol, a combination of both, or driver fatigue.
Overall traffic accidents on Manteca city streets dropped in 2018.
And while the number of injury accidents was up 19.8 percent last year, fatal accidents have been declining since they peaked at six in 2015.
The snapshot of how safe the streets are in Manteca is gleaned from traffic accident statistics kept by the Manteca Police Department. They do not involve fender benders where the police did not respond.
The 10-year trend shows the last four years, however, have been the deadliest on city streets with 14 traffic fatalities from 2015 to 2018 compared to 6 in the previous six years.
Manteca population during that time went up 23.4 percent from 65,993 to 81,450 while overall accidents went up 37.6 percent going from 675 to 929 while injury accidents soared 87.3 percent going from 119 to 223. There were no fatalities in 2009. There were 2 fatalities in 2018. Meanwhile tickets issued for moving violations plummeted 57 percent. The year 2009 was the last time Manteca Police have five officers dedicated to traffic enforcement. Today there are three officers.
In 2018, there was an average of 2.5 accidents a day.
Manteca’s strategy toward making streets safer is dubbed the ‘Three E’s” — engineering, education, and enforcement.
Even if a more muscular traffic enforcement unit is put in place, given officers can’t be everywhere the most effective “E” in the long run to altering driving habits is engineering.
It is why the city staff has developed an updated traffic calming for neighborhood streets. Most of the strategies in the traffic calming policy aim at slowing down traffic.
Examples of traffic calming measures include:
striping designed to narrow lanes and alert drivers. pedestrians and bicyclists.
bicycle lanes to promote bicycle use and safety as well as slow down vehicles by making travel lanes narrower.
Botts Dots with reflective markers to keep drivers on the right side of the road. They are especially useful on curves such as those found on North Powers Avenue.
speed limit radar displays in conjunction with static speed limit signs in a bid to educate motorists of their speed and to encourage compliance. Deployment includes temporary radar trailers and solar powered speed limit signs.
increase traffic enforcement. As opposed to other measures it would be impossible to have in place 24/7.
speed humps across the street that force motorists to slow down in order to cross. They would not be deployed on emergency response routes.
speed lumps — basically three smaller speed hump — spaced to allow buses and emergency vehicles to straddle them by going down the middle of the road or toward the side of the road.
speed tables that are a flat-topped speed hump of a longer length that can be used on emergency response routes.
raised crosswalks that provide pedestrians with a sidewalk level street crossing. The raised crosswalks function as a speed hump of sorts while making pedestrians more visible to approaching motorists.
Other traffic calming devices include bulb outs, pedestrian islands, traffic circles, partial or full closure of streets, and stop signs.
Residents can put in motion a city inquiry into whether deploy traffic calming devices on specific streets.
Courtesy: DENNIS WYATT