(WTNH) – Traffic safety experts in Connecticut are reporting a massive spike in fatalities on the roadway for 2022. From wrong-way crashes to reduced police officers there are a lot of factors at play.
Connecticut roads in 2022 are getting more dangerous. Data tracked by the University of Connecticut Transportation Safety Institute shows traffic fatalities are up 69 percent year to date, in comparison to the previous 5-year average.
Four of those deaths have come as a result of a wrong-way driver and the Department of Transportation has marked out where they may be getting onto the highway.
“We chose these 15 locations for a reason. This pilot program is underway, we hope to expand it using signage technology that’s available to us,” said Josh Morgan, DOT Spokesperson.
It’s not just on the highway, many people are getting killed on the road. Traffic fatalities include crashes that include pedestrians. Data shows they’re 42 percent higher than the 5-year average for the first few months of the year.
In Durham, there is a group devoted to making the roads safer for everyone.
“Our roads really have been designed for cars and trucks not designed for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Leslie Boulion, Chair of the Durham Complete Streets Action Group.
The DOT’s help, they are making roadway improvements in Durham including new signage and updated pavement markings, but they can only do so much if drivers aren’t paying attention.
“There is a lot of distracted drivers. We see that increasing and increasing,” Boulion said.
“I’ve had multiple friends struck by cars and my partner a near-fatal accident. It’s such a dangerous thing, the distraction as well,” said Sgt. Charles Grasso, Crash Data Liaison at the UConn Transportation Safety Research Center & retired state Trooper.
Sgt. Grasso retired from the force in 2013 after serving as a municipal police officer for 27 years. He’s seen a change in driving behavior, many drivers now having a complete disregard for law enforcement, and not having enough officers is adding to this growing issue.
“Right, there are not enough police officers to go around. Departments having a real problem hiring and the calls for service are demanding,” Sgt. Grasso said.
It was Sgt. Grasso who communicated with the victim’s family after deadly crashes.
“So, I did fatals in ten different towns. It’s devastating, it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. We need to get the message out there even if it’s just one life we save,” Sgt. Grasso said.
Sgt. Grasso said there are a lot of factors for reckless driving and wrong-way driving. The most common include anxiety, alcohol, and drugs. Research shows that 94 percent of all collisions are human-factor related.