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More Traffic Tickets In Kansas City Might Have Reduced Fatal Accidents In 2018

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
KCPD officers have written 30 percent more tickets this year compared to 2017. This may be a reason fatal accidents have decreased in Kansas City.

The day after Christmas, a 33-year-old motorcycle driver was run over and killed after a crashing into a Buick in Kansas City's Northland.

It was the city's 85th fatal accident of 2018. And while that is a lot for a city the size of Kansas City, it is better than the city's 100 fatal accidents in 2017.

A Kansas City Police spokesman said the department wasn't sure why the number of fatal accidents dropped, but it could be tied to the fact that officers are writing significantly more traffic tickets.

“If there is a correlation with increased traffic enforcement and lowering fatalities, then we will definitely continue to seek those increases in our traffic enforcement,” said KCPD spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina.

Through November of 2018 (the latest figures available), KCPD officers issued 142,613 tickets — a 30 percent increase over the same time in November 2017, when the department had written just 109,362.

When Chief Rick Smith took over the department in July 2017, he told officers to start writing more traffic tickets.

“I think it would be fair to say (he told officers to write) more citations, away from the warnings," Deputy Chief Sharon Laningham, who commands the Patrol Bureau, told the police board earlier this year.

Still, according to the department, there were some puzzling fatal-accident statistics.

For example, 47 percent of fatalities involved an impaired driver, according to department data. That is higher than the national rate. Nationally, about a third of fatal accidents involve an impaired driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

And of the 18 pedestrians killed in Kansas City in 2018, 14 were either drunk or on drugs.

Police said they have no idea why so many drunk pedestrians are killed in the city.

Sam Zeffis KCUR's Metro Reporte. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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