• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Fatalities up, overall collisions comparable to last year

The number of vehicle collisions in Woodford County so far this year is comparable to last year, Lt. Michael Fortney of the Versailles Police Department said.

Of the 1,103 vehicle crashes last year, 145 involved injuries and two had fatalities, according to police records provided to the Sun.

Through August of this year, 678 collisions occurred in Woodford County, with 81 involving injuries and three involving fatalities, police records stated.

A total of 119 injuries and four fatalities were reported in collisions so far this year. That includes the double-fatality on McCracken Pike Aug. 11.

Two deaths resulted from crashes all of last year.

One factor in keeping the number of fatalities lower here, compared to some other counties, according to Fortney, has been his department’s focus on traffic enforcement. He said areas of concentration are signaled intersections, including Paddock Drive and U.S. 60 East, Marsailles Road and U.S. 60 East, and Big Sink Pike and the U.S. 60 Bypass.

High-traffic intersections are watched “because a lot of your accidents occur when people try to beat those lights,” said Fortney. “And with us there, we feel like we’ve made a pretty good impact on (reducing the number of) fatalities at those particular intersections.”

Serious injuries and fatalities have occurred in wrecks at those high-traffic intersections in the past, he added.

“When you start concentrating your traffic enforcement on intersections like that, that are identified as intersections that are dangerous, or intersections that can cause a lot of traffic accidents, then those will decrease,” Fortney said.

“We’re not there (at these high traffic intersections) just to write tickets,” he continued. “We’re there to slow people down. We’re there to make people be more aware of those intersections, and hopefully reduce the number of collisions and traffic accidents that occur.”

Fortney said one of the limiting factors for doing more traffic enforcement is not having a dedicated traffic unit. Instead, patrol officers do traffic enforcement in between taking calls for service.

While it’s difficult to cite a common factor in most crashes, Fortney said motorists in a hurry to get to their destinations or not paying attention to what they’re doing are two factors in many collisions.

Fortney said more collisions occur in congested areas, such as the Kroger parking lot, but Woodford County does not have one particular location where more collisions happen.

County road speed limits are generally 55 mph, and even if those limits were lowered to 45 mph, Fortney said he’s not sure that would make a huge difference in the number of collisions.

“Society, in general, is just in a hurry. And if you lowered it to 45, people are going to go 55. They’re going to go 60. It doesn’t matter. That’s why we try to be very proactive about it and get our guys out working that enforcement in those targeted areas,” said Fortney. He advised drivers to slow down and give themselves additional time to reach their destination safely in inclement weather conditions – snow and rain.

He encouraged motorists to remain patient, especially when approaching an intersection.

“Just because… that light just turned green doesn’t mean you need to proceed right through that intersection – especially on U.S. 60, your major thoroughfares where these… bigger motor vehicles, commercial vehicles are coming up to these intersections. They’re not going to stop like a car can stop. It’s going to take a lot more feet, a lot more distance for them to stop than it is for a passenger car or passenger vehicle,” said Fortney.

Collisions involving commercial vehicles are trending up this year, with 41 through August. Fifty-six collisions involved commercial vehicles all of last year, according to Versailles police records.

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