Traffic crashes up 20 percent, but injuries, fatalities down

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Traffic crashes have jumped almost 20 percent in Clovis this year but the number of injuries from those crashes has dropped and crash-related fatalities are down.

At the heart of the crashes lie traffic infractions, such as following too close, failing to yield and failing to stop at stoplights, Clovis police Capt. Patrick Whitney said.

But the reason for the increase is unclear.

From January to Oct. 31, there have been 1,271 crashes on public property within the city limits, up from 1,166 during the same period last year, marking an 18 percent increase, Whitney said.

The numbers show a spike over a previous decline of 11 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Of this year’s crashes, 196 involved injuries, a drop from 213.

The increase seems to be isolated to the city, with crashes in rural areas tracking normally.

State police District Commander Capt. Jimmy Glascock said there has been no significant change in the number of crashes his officers are handling. Glascock said the number of fatalities in Curry County has been dropping the last three years.

Crashes investigated in Curry County by state police fluctuate between three and 10 per quarter, he said, a normal fluctuation.

“From what we’re handling, I don’t think that we’ve seen any significant increases,” he said.

And while the Curry County Sheriff has seen a slight increase in crashes because deputies have investigated or assisted other agencies with in the past month, there has been no marked change overall, Undersheriff Wesley Waller said.

Whitney said it is difficult to know what is causing the increase.

“It’s probably too soon right now to speculate if the population increase from new Cannon (Air Force Base) personnel and families and the Contractors doing work out there from out of town may be adding to this increase. That is a possibility,” he said.

“Statistically, as our population grows, it stands to reason our (crash) numbers will go up.”

Whitney said there was one fatality in 2008 and two in 2007.