Highway 22 crash statistics released
With less than two months of the year to go, crash figures on Highway 22 nearly mirror 2009 figures, according to statistics from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
Preliminary data shows there have already been 13 more crashes and one more fatality this year than in 2005.
"With the increased traffic, we're going to have an increase with crashes and there's a direct correlation between that and fatalities," said North Dakota Highway Patrol Sgt. Danny Haugen.
However, some may be surprised to learn crashes in 2010 haven't exceeded last year's figures.
"With the amount of traffic, I was surprised to see the numbers down ... I would think that they were on the upswing," said Don Rockvoy, Dunn County sheriff.
Haugen said area crashes are concentrated on highways between Dickinson and McKenzie County.
"Most of our crashes that we're responding to are on Highway 22 north of Dickinson," Haugen said.
Increased traffic on Highway 22 has put a strain on the Dunn County Sheriff's Office, Rockvoy said.
"With amount of traffic that we have going on on Highway 22, it's a tough job, because we're understaffed and we're struggling," Rockvoy said. "We have so many calls on traffic -- reckless driving or whatever. We'll respond to those and lots of times we come up empty handed because we can't find a vehicle because there's so much traffic."
Officers average between two and six reports of reckless drivers a day in Dunn County, he added.
However, even if motorists provide a license plate number and officers can track down the vehicle in question, a citation might not be issued, Rockvoy said. The person who sees the reckless driving must fill out a written complaint before action can be taken.
"We have to go through what they call a long form process through the State's Attorney's Office to get a reckless driving charge or to get someone into court," Rockvoy said. "If no complaint is signed, we basically don't have any recourse against the driver, other than to stop and talk with them."
Rockvoy worries winter weather will bring an influx in crashes and recent road construction on Highway 22 from Killdeer south may compound driving issues, Rockvoy said.
"It's pure asphalt right now and its black and that highway hides ice," Rockvoy said. "Ice doesn't show up on a pure black highway like it does when it's had a chip seal on top."
He encourages drivers to slow down and abstain from using cruise control during winter months.
"Take you're time, especially in icy conditions," he said. "Don't venture out if you don't need to when the roads are bad. When the roads are in that kind of condition, the possibility of a severe crash taking place is lot more than it would be in dry conditions."