Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Yesterday's snowfall was a traffic nightmare. We responded to 149 traffic crashes. A normal day would be just over 26. Earlier this winter (December 6, 2007) we had 161, so I guess yesterday was just a bad dream, not a nightmare. They were split precisely at noon. Half were in the morning, half in the evening. Yes, I realize 149 was an odd number, but one of those crashes was actually on the button at 1200 hours.

A couple of weeks ago, I was testing out a new data report--an idea that a colleague, Bruce Silva at the Omega Group, had come up with. I did a little tweaking on his template, then ran the report against four years of traffic crashes, 30,287 cases. I thought that would make a good test, because I knew crashes would show some obvious day of week and time of day patterns.

Hour of day is in the rows, day of week is in the columns. The bluest cells are the coolest--with the fewest crashes. The reddest cells are the hottest. Here's a snapshot of the report (click to enlarge):

The weekday afternoon drive-time is clearly the prime time for traffic crashes by a considerable margin. Have a look at Friday. I think people are leaving work a little early on Fridays....


Anonymous said...

I often leave work a bit early on Fridays. My Dad once said that there is a silver lining to all. Leaving early counts if you arrive late, right?

One note on the huge work load that LPD did on 149 accidents, it keeps the employees busy and a busy employee stays out of trouble. Or is that the case with the kind of job you have.

Anonymous said...

Lets start today off with a joke.

A lawyer on vacation fell off his boat into shark-infested waters. The sharks swam right past him without biting him. He asked them why, and they said, "Professional courtesy."
Now on with the show.

Tom Casady said...


You need to spend a shift working seven accidents, with the ink frozen in your Bic, your fingers and toes numb, dodging gawkers all day, then heading to the substation with a week's worth of reports.

Anonymous 6:53-

First time I heard that one I laughed so hard I nearly kicked the slats out of the cradle.

Anonymous said...

I hope the standard uniform issue for winter includes warm and cozy windproof/waterproof/insulative apparel. It's probably a hard enough job in the best of weather, without numb appendages and the shiver-shakes from borderline hypothermia when winter hits hard.

On an unrelated topic, and this concerns things like this case, when one receives an official contact call from LPD (undercover and narco type calls not included of course), doesn't the Caller ID info plainly say Lincoln Police or something similar?

Doesn't the *57 "call trace" star code work to store the call info for LE use, if one dials it as soon as they hang up from such a suspicious call like that aforementioned case?

Anonymous said...

Your graph shows that you are correct about people leaving early on Friday. It looks like they are a little more impatient about the drive home as well.

Anonymous said...

When weather conditions are poor like yesterday, why can we not just tell motorists to exchange information unless there is an injury, similar to the way Omaha handles days like these?
It seems to be rather taxing on the police officers who could be out doing other things instead of spending their entire shifts going from one fender bender to another. It also seems many of these would likely have damages under $1000 (the amount of damage set forth by the state requiring a police report) since most of these are minor---at least the ones I've seen while I've been driving.
In my opinion, I would rather have my tax dollars going towards police officers out looking for other crime activity and responding to other calls rather than these minor accidents.

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 3:08-

I agree. We have, at times, suspended responding to minor crashes when overwhelmed, advising people instead to simply exchange information and contact their insurance company. We probably need to systematize that somewhat--decide under what circumstances we will do so.

You can imagine the problem, though: inevitably the nice young man who rear ends your car will turn out to be a deadbeat whose insurance is expired, whose cellphone number provided at the scene has been disconnected, and who cannot be located at the apartment address he provided you on the back of an envelope.

Not a good situation, but nonetheless, we can't commit every police resource and have 20 more minor crashes holding without other significant problems emerging--such as a two-hour wait that people won't stick around for anyway.