DPD monitoring traffic accident numbers

Demopolis Police Department Chief Tommie Reese will be assessing January’s traffic accident numbers in the coming days as he determines whether or not to shift some of the patrol patterns of his department.

The decision to monitor the numbers came following an inordinately high accident rate in December 2012. That month featured 28 accidents in the city with 13 injuries occurring.

“I got the monthly report and looked at it and saw where it was kind of high. I’m going to go back and look at the previous four years since I’ve been here and just see the month of December and kind of do a comparison,” Reese said. “Kids being out of school. People doing a lot of traveling. You’ve got a lot of people doing a lot of traveling during the month of December. That may be our reason for the increase in the number of traffic accidents.”

However, Reese is open to the possibility that accident numbers could be trending upward, a phenomenon that would likely result in the need to increase the visibility of DPD officers on roadways throughout the city.

“We had three (accidents with overturned vehicles) back in the month of December. Luckily, we had not fatalities in the month of December, which is a good thing,” Reese said. “We’re looking then at the month of January to kind of see if it is a pattern that is coming about now or if it is just because of the high volume of traffic that is on the road in the month of December.”

Overall, traffic accidents within the city have decreased each year of Reese’s tenure as head of DPD. Reese attributes the annual downward trend of accidents to previous decisions to increase the visibility of officers.

In 2009, the city saw 260 accidents with 34 occurrences of injury. The total number of accidents dropped to 247 in 2010 with a spike to 66 injuries. The accident number was 246 in the year 2011 with 61 injuries. Even with the December spike, 2012 saw only 196 accidents with 49 injuries.

While increased police presence is one solution to the traffic accident problem, Reese also points to good driving habits among motorists as key to increasing the safety of roadways.

“A lot of your problem is that you’ve got aggressive driving from motorists. Drivers not paying attention to what they are doing. They are either in the car on the radio, fooling with a child in the car, trying to eat and talk on the cell phone and everything else. Just not paying attention,” Reese said. “We want to tell the motorists to slow down, pay attention to what you’re doing.”