Paradise Valley collision data offers snapshot of roadway safety
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
The Paradise Valley Police Department is reporting, over the last three years, a steady number of collisions — injury and non-injury — meanwhile the local law enforcement agency is reporting one traffic fatality in calendar year 2021.
Last month the Arizona Digital Free Press made a public record’s request at Paradise Valley Town Hall seeking the last three years of traffic and collision data. Specifically, the Free Press sought:
- How exactly is accident data accumulated by the Paradise Valley Police Department?
- Can you tell me the five intersections within city limits that has the most accidents over the last three years?
Since 1987, the Town of Paradise Valley has participated in a photo enforcement program whereas officials at Town Hall will tell you the purpose of the speed-tracking program is to establish a ‘modified behavior’ from motorists.
“Paradise Valley has successfully utilized photo enforcement since 1987 and has seen a 50% decrease in traffic collisions as a result, despite a 32% increase in traffic passing through town and an increase in distracted drivers,” said Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner in a letter to constituents earlier this year.
“Paradise Valley residents welcome and praise this life-saving tool, and have requested increases to the use of photo radar and enforcement across Paradise Valley in 2013 and again in 2018 at resident meetings.”
The No. 1 intersection in terms of reported collisions is found at Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive, numbers show. A breakdown of the total 48 accidents at that intersection are:
2020 — 9 collisions
2021 — 18 collisions
2022 — 21 collisions
Paradise Valley Town Manager Jill Keimach points out the municipality of 16 square miles is a regular fixture at the Arizona Legislature seeking to maintain its ability to utilize photo enforcement technology.
“Other cities would consider the photo enforcement tools if they were confident the state legislature would stop attempting to ban this lifesaving and financially effective tool to slow down traffic,” she said. “Based on the quantitative data from Paradise Valley, it is hard to imagine why a city wouldn’t do everything they can to reduce speeds and collisions.”
Furthermore, Ms. Kiemach explains when local motorists pass through the Town of Paradise Valley many are aware of the municipality’s policy regarding speeding on local thoroughfares.
“The Town of Paradise Valley is well known for its zero tolerance for speeding. We have seen many instances where drivers slow through Paradise Valley and then speed up as they leave our town limits,” said Paradise Valley Police Chief Freeman Carney. “At the beginning of the pandemic, when so many individuals stopped driving to work, the collisions dropped as expected. Yet, even with the return of traffic toward pre-pandemic levels, our number of collisions remain significantly low due to our well-known use of photo enforcement.”
Accidents will happen and data provided by the Paradise Valley Police Department shows they most frequently occur within town limits here:
- East Lincoln Drive and North Tatum Boulevard
- East Lincoln and North Invergordon Road
- East Lincoln Drive and North Palo Cristi Road
- East Lincoln Drive and North Mockingbird Lane
A view from the private sector
Jose Leon is an injury law attorney in central Phoenix, who points out the Town of Paradise Valley is primarily residential with two main thoroughfares serving pass-through traffic, which dramatically helps keep traffic calm.
“Most people driving to their homes will be careful because they have ownership of their community. They understand that there may be children and pedestrians on the streets,” he said when asked what he thought of the staggering low amount of accidents occurring with municipal bounds.
“Another factor is the size of roads and the speed limits for each road. Narrow lanes and low speed limits promote slower traffic. Vehicles driving at slower speeds provide a driver a larger window of time to avoid collisions in the event that there is a danger approaching.”
No matter the precautions made, the abundance of caution encouraged — humans will find a way to mess up, Mr. Leon explains.
“A number of factors come into play for high or low accident rates. In my opinion the main culprit a lot of times is the lack of attention and forethought in relation to our driving. The next big factor is the makeup of the community,” he said. “If a large amount of the municipality is reserved for residential properties, you’ll have local traffic traversing the roads.”
Mr. Leon points out cities across the Valley looking to reduce opportunities for accidents could look to the roadways themselves first.
“A municipality looking to reduce the accident rate and make it safer should focus on master planning the roads,” he said. “Constructing medians on roads and roundabouts at intersections can help flow of traffic and prevent vehicles from having an opportunity from head-on collisions.”