The number of car accidents reported to the University Police Department has decreased in the fall semester compared to numbers at this time in 2015.

The total reported car accidents in 2015 totaled 263, but only 107 accidents have been reported to UPD so far this this semester, said UPD Capt. Rhonda Clark, a drop from what would have been expected.

"Accidents can happen anywhere, but some roads on or near campus handle a higher traffic volume, and there could be a higher number of accidents reported," Clark said. "Student car accidents are most commonly caused by driver inattention or other driver actions, but we might be seeing improvements."

UPD and MPD Safety Tips

  • Be alert and pay attention to others
  • Obey all traffic laws and speed limits
  • Use safety restraints and seat belts at all times
  • Pay attention to traffic signals and devices
  • Never text and drive
  • Never drive impaired
  • Adjust driving and stopping distances for environment conditions, including rain and snow

In April, the speed limit on all the major campus roads, including McKinley Avenue, dropped form 30 mph to 20 mph in an effort to keep drivers and pedestrians safer. Although UPD Chief Jim Duckham said he couldn't definitively relate the drop in accidents to the lower speed limits around campus, he did say the change has been "encouraging" for overall camps safety.

"Without having any statistical data, I still think that any time we reduce the speed, it's really a good thing," Duckham said. "If the limit is 30, people are going to do 40. But if now I can get people down to 20, 21, 22 mph — that's a win for me and for the safety of everyone here."

Every accident UPD responds to is unique, Duckham said, but the department has noticed that most accidents stem from driver distractions — such as talking or texting on cell phones — which lead drivers to avoid or overlook traffic signs or other cars while on the road.

"There are so many more distractions than when I was [college aged]," Duckham said. "Be cognizant of your surroundings, the conditions — it's something people have to understand. You have to be aware."