Grand Junction Police Traffic Officers have heard a lot of reasons: “I was turning up a song on the radio”, or “I dropped my burger and wasn’t watching.” The problem is the number of rear end crashes in our city is becoming a big problem, and officers responding to crashes are hearing these very things from drivers on the streets of Grand Junction all too often.
In 2011 there were 483 rear end crashes, which is about 50% of all crashes. Traffic Unit Sergeant David Stassen has heard many excuses as to why rear end accidents happen.
“Cell phones, playing with the radio, dropping a CD, spilling drinks or food, and talking to the person in the passenger seat are excuses we hear the most,” Sgt. Stassen says. “Texting is a main cause for a lot of these crashes, but people know better than to tell us that.”
To bring down the total amount of rear end crashes, which happen when drivers are following other vehicles too closely or they are not paying attention while driving, the GJPD is stepping up our enforcement in the high crash areas. The three major enforcement areas are the entire length of North Avenue, the entire length of F road, and Highway 6&50 from Mesa Mall to 1st Street. The majority of crashes happen in these three corridors.
“We are going to be writing tickets for following too closely,” Sgt. Stassen said. “Our lasers can measure the distance between vehicles. The rule of thumb for being too close to the car in front of you is one car length for every 10 miles per hour.”
Another way you can tell if you are too close to the car in front of you is by picking a point on the roadway in front of you. When the car in front of you goes over that point begin counting for two seconds (one-one-thousand, two- one-thousand). If you cross the point before you get to two-one-thousand, then you are too close.
So, who’s getting into these types of crashes? The majority, by far, involve younger drivers, ages of 16-20. People 25-34 are the next highest age group, followed by people 55-74.
The good news is it’s fairly simple to prevent rear end crashes, and crashes overall. All you have to do is pay attention to your driving. Don’t talk or text on your cell phone, don’t eat while driving, don’t mess with your radio or iPod. Just pay attention and leave plenty of space between your car and the car in front of you.
If you don’t, and you do end up crashing into the car in front of you, you could face a fine of $177, and even worse, you run the risk of injuring yourself, your passengers, or someone in another vehicle.
“When you think about it, it’s just common sense,” adds Sgt. Stassen. “Unfortunately, too many drivers are in too big of a hurry, are thinking about too many things, or just have some very bad habits. So, you have to ask yourself, is crashing your car worth all of that?
Learn more about the GJPD Traffic Unit and the monthly “Traffic Law Highlight” by visiting http://www.gjcity.org/Traffic_Unit.aspx.