Staying Safe On Ukiah’s Roads
I’m proud to tell people that I live in a small town, a town where the pace of life is slower than most communities, a town where most people feel safe walking around, riding their bikes, and driving their vehicles—a much different feeling than you get in a big, metropolitan area.
But even with this wonderful, small-town feel, some Ukiahans express concern about walking or cycling around town because of the speed of our local drivers. I want to remind everyone that our officers actively enforce traffic laws, because even one accident is too many. We want Ukiah to be as safe as possible for everyone.
The good news is, when it comes to traffic safety, Ukiah is quite safe; but we still have work to do.
Each year the California Office of Traffic Safety ranks cities based on their accident rates, allowing us to see how Ukiah measures up against 108 other cities in California that are our size. (The rankings are always a few years behind because of the sheer volume of data being analyzed, but they are a good place to start when looking for traffic safety trends within a community.)
The 2014 data indicate that Ukiah has fewer fatal or injury-related accidents while driving than many other cities. We ranked better than 72 of the 108 comparison cities for fatal and injury-related collisions; and among these types of collisions where speed was the primary factor, we ranked better than 90 of the 108 cities in the study.
While I’m proud of these numbers, I’m concerned about our latest collision rankings involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and underage drinking.
For collisions with pedestrians, Ukiah was ranked the 18th most dangerous city in the study. I was especially disappointed to see that we ranked 12th most dangerous for collisions involving pedestrians younger than 15 years old. While the sample size was small (only two pedestrians younger than 15 were injured in collisions), having such a poor ranking compared to other cities our size should concern us all.
For collisions with bicyclists, Ukiah was ranked the 41st most dangerous city. Sadly, once again, we were ranked even worse for motor vehicle collisions involving bicyclists younger than 15 years old: we were the 9th most dangerous amongst the 108 comparison cities. Here, too, the sample size was small (two bicyclists under 15 were injured in collisions); but again, having a high ranking compared to other cities should concern us.
In fatal and injury-related collisions involving 21 to 34 year olds, our community was extremely safe, ranking 100 amongst the 108 cities. But things change drastically when we examined the numbers for those drivers who are under 21 years old. In these injury collisions, our community ranked the 10th most dangerous amongst the 108 comparison cities–clearly, another area for concern.
So, while our community is relatively safe when it comes to fatal and injury-related collisions, we have a lot of work to do to reduce pedestrian, bicycle, and underage drinking collisions in our city. Our rankings are just too high and we need your help to change these statistics.
In reality, the best place to reduce collisions, especially those involving bicyclists and pedestrians, is to slow down. Please, watch out for cyclists and pedestrians and SLOW DOWN. When drivers speed, they simply don’t have enough time to react to avoid some collisions, which can lead to heartbreaking results for everyone involved.
As for parents, whether your kids are old enough to walk, bicycle, or drive, please take some time to talk with them about traffic safety. For pedestrians and cyclists, you can find some great information at www.walkandbike.org. If you’re the parent of a teenager who drives, please visit www.driveithome.org; it’s a great resource to keep teens (and others) safe and sober while driving.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.