NewsCovering Colorado


Wrecks reduced on Academy after new light installed

Posted at 6:53 PM, Nov 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-20 20:53:59-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Drivers who frequent Platte and Academy may have seen it by now, the new traffic light with a protected turn arrow was installed in late June.

"When you come up to that left turn, you can only make a left turn if you have a green arrow," explained traffic engineer Todd Frisbie. "All other times it'll be a red arrow."

He said his staff studied the intersection and noticed that many of the wrecks that occurred here had something in common.

"We noticed a pattern of vehicles, south bound vehicles, that were turning left in front of vehicles coming northbound," Frisbie said.

From January until June, before the new light was installed, there were 26 crashes recorded at the intersection. Since then, the number dropped to 7.

"A few months after that installation, I got an email from the police department saying, hey, we noticed that this intersection used to be in our top 10 for crashes, but in the past couple of months it hasn't been."

In 2018, Colorado Springs set a record with 48 traffic fatalities. Since then, the city has taken numerous steps to try an improve traffic safety.

Red light cameras were installed at a pair of intersections, and the Police Department has engaged in a number of highly visible speed drunk driving enforcement patrols.

"We look at this approach holistically across the city of what can we do to impact traffic safety," explained Lt. Jim Sokolik, public information officer for CSPD.

In addition to the DUI and speed patrols, Lt. Sokolik said patrol officers have incorporated traffic enforcement into their daily duties.

"Our goal here is to, obviously, decrease our fatal traffic accidents as well as our injury traffic accidents," he said.

Frisbie said there is no one-sized fits all approach to improving safety. While the protected arrow is showing positive resultes for Platte and Academy, there may be other design changes that canhelp at other intersections.

"Our goal, really, is to reduce crashes, and the way we reduce crashes is to help drivers make fewer mistakes," he said.