Crashes up in 2021, but Kansas City police relieved to see deadly wrecks down so far

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Crashes are up, but fatalities are down in Kansas City.

Police released new data Tuesday showing traffic trends. In the latest report, numbers show there have been 5,778 crashes in Kansas City this year. This time last year, police had seen 5,137 crashes. That’s a more than 12% increase.  

“Maybe we’re seeing more traffic out there now that some of the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, getting more people back to work,” said KCPD Sgt. Bill Mahoney, supervisor for accident investigations. “More traffic is unfortunately more crashes.” 

Mahoney said the top reason for crashes is rear-ending and people not focusing on driving. 

“It can be somebody playing with their radio or their phone,” Mahoney said. “It could be just not recognizing quickly enough that traffic is going slower, so you aren’t able to stop in front of you.” 

But it’s not all bad news.

Mahoney said KCPD has seen fewer deadly crashes than this time last year. He said as of May 11 of 2020, there were 27 fatal crashes, and this year 22 deadly wrecks have been reported. 

“It’s still a tragedy for everyone involved, but any improvement in that area is something we can feel good about,” Mahoney said. 

He said in the coming months, people should be even more careful on the streets. 

“Another factor is that as the weather gets warmer, we see an uptick in fatality and serious injury crashes,” Mahoney said. “A lot of times that is pedestrians and motorcycles.” 

Police compiled a list of hot spots where traffic crashes often happen in the order of frequency:  

  • Interstate 435 & Holmes Road 
  • Interstate 70 & Interstate 435 
  • 75th Street & Bruce Watkins Drive 
  • Bannister Road & Interstate 435 
  • Interstate 470 & Blue Ridge Boulevard 
  • 55th & Bruce Watkins Drive 
  • Front Street & Interstate 435 
  • Front Street & Interstate 35 
  • Red Bridge Road & 71 Highway 
  • Interstate 435 & Wornall Road  

“Traditionally, you’re going to see the most crashes on the most routes that carry commuter traffic and high-volume traffic places where there are frequent shutdowns and traffic backs up during rush hour,” Mahoney said. 

Police are urging drivers to pay attention to what they’re doing on the road. 

“I know a lot of things compete for your attention while you’re driving,” Mahoney said. “It’s not just the phone. If you’ve got kids in the car and things like that, it’s easy to have your attention drawn away from driving.” 

As police celebrate fewer fatal crashes so far in 2021, they’re asking drivers to focus while behind the wheel. Officers will also keep working for safer streets.  

“We’re going to continue to pursue aggressive enforcement as far as traffic codes our DUI squad every weekend has extra patrols out just doing whatever we could to try and curb the most serious crashes,” Mahoney said. 

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