Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Neither, it’s the police.

Is it the drivers or the streets? That’s the question Omaha World Herald reporter Tanna Kimmerling asked in the headline of a Saturday article which purports to show that Lincoln more than doubles the wintertime traffic crash rate of Omaha.

It’s neither. This is a classic example of a reporting phenomenon: the Lincoln police department is simply more likely to submit reports of minor collisions to the Nebraska Department of Roads than our Omaha counterparts—particularly collisions occurring during inclement weather. I could reduce our rate dramatically with the stroke of a pen by not submitting reports on non-injury crashes with damages of less than $1,000 to the property of any one person, or by declaring a moratorium on non-injury traffic crash investigations anytime the snow starts falling in appreciable quantities.

A pretty good indicator of the genuine comparison of these two cities would be accident claims filed with insurance companies, rather than police reports filed with the Department of Roads. Allstate Insurance produces just that, with their annual America's Best Drivers Report. For 2008, Omaha and Lincoln ranked 16th and 19tn on the list of the safest of the 200 largest cities in the United States. The link to the 2007 report is dead, but in 2006, the order was reversed: Lincoln 22nd, Omaha 23rd. In 2005 Lincoln was 16th and Omaha 27th.

Suffice it to say that Lincoln and Omaha are neck-in-neck as some of the safest among the 200 largest cities in the United States. Before anyone gets too wound up about how Lincoln drivers are the world’s worst, please review my previous post on this topic, and be prepared to defend your position with something other than your wistful memories of the smooth-and-skilled navigators of the Lake Wobegon freeway system.


Anonymous said...

What, OPD not turning in paper work??? NAAAA, it can't be, Chief. Could it be that your department has a better sense of duty than your Omaha counterparts?? I think so.

Anonymous said...

My experience, although anecdotal, is that Lincoln drivers seem to have a problem stopping at red lights.

Also, a comparison of Omaha to Lincoln residential accidents would be interesting in light of the no-stop-signs-in-neighborhoods phenomenon in Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

What the Chief means, is that when there is a storm in Omaha, they don't respond to accidents. Even if listen to the tv stations, they will announce that OPD is not responding to non injury accidents and for drimver to just exchange information and not to call.

No call, no report. Lincoln still goes out of them.

Anonymous said...

A question for you:
When you are traveling on a street with NO STOP signs and there is a T-intersection and a vehicle on your right (no stop sign) is waiting to turn Left or Right, do you yield to the vehicle on the right? Or does the vehicle on the right, making the turn across traffic yield?

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

In other words, the article was inaccurate, because the writer was too lazy to pick up the phone, and ask you why there was such a disparity in accident rates? That's not a reporter, that's a "journalist".

Reporters dig until they get to the truth, but journalists usually take the easiest route to finishing their piece (their piece of "what", exactly, I won't say here).

Anonymous said...

To say Omaha PD has a lesser sense of duty than Lincoln is absurd. Omaha is a busier city that puts its responsibilities at a level of priority. When Omaha is being slammed with accidents because of weather, it only makes sense to have those drivers who are involved in non-injury accidents report it at a later time. It's not that OPD is trying to get out of its responsibilities, but rather keep their officers available for a higher priority call (robbery, disturbances, missing children, etc...). I call this approach having a "better sense of responsibility". I think Lincoln could learn a thing or two by keeping their officers available. Lincoln is often comparing themselves to Omaha. Why not try and learn and improve rather than to criticize. I rarely hear Omaha PD comparing themselves to Lincoln PD. I'm sure it's just the Nopolean complex Lincoln often suffers from.

Tom Casady said...


I agree. If I had my 'druthers, we'd cut investigations of fender benders entirely if our resources have to be trimmed. It's not about workload or duty, as you point out, it's about priorities.

Anonymous said...

I WILL say it, OPD DOES lack a sense of duty!!! I've seen it, and experienced it. They would be foolish to compare themselves to any hard working department.