Crashes up in Dalton as more vehicles return to the road

·3 min read

Jun. 25—More traffic crashes last month compared with May 2020, as well as more crashes for the year so far than in the first five months of 2020, indicate Dalton is moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the city's chief of police.

Traffic crashes in the city this year through May increased about 22% compared to the same five months in 2020 but there are more vehicles on the road this year, Cliff Cason told the members of the Dalton Public Safety Commission during a meeting Tuesday. "Crash numbers have returned to pre-pandemic levels, a good indication businesses are returning to more normal operations."

Calls for service also illustrate a return to normal operations in the city versus last year at this time, Cason said. Calls for service so far this year are down 20% compared to last year.

"People were home more, so they were calling about every little thing" last year, he said. "Now, folks are spending less time on the phone with us because they're spending less time at home."

Crime

Through May, part 1 crimes, which include aggravated assault, homicide and rape, are in line with 2020's figures at the same point, with part 1 crimes down nearly 2% this year, according to the police department. The 349 part 1 crimes through May of this year is the lowest figure in at least five years.

Aggravated assaults are up, though, with seven this May as opposed to one in May 2020, and the highest year-to-date in at least five years, with 30 so far this year, Cason said. However, there were 28 aggravated assaults through May 2017, and 25 through May 2019, so this year's figures "aren't out of whack (enough) to raise any red flags."

Property crimes are down 3% versus 2020 to this point, and "that's a positive thing," Cason said. The city's 310 property crimes through May is the lowest number year-to-date in at least five years.

Part 2 crimes, such as code violations, controlled substances offenses and forgery/fraud, are up 7% year-to-date compared to 2020, but "I'm not overly concerned, because DUIs and code enforcement have pushed those numbers up," Cason said. "Those are good preventative measures."

Crashes

There were 131 non-private property crashes reported in May, with failure to yield the leading contributing factor in injury crashes and following too closely the leading factor in non-injury crashes, according to the police department. Walnut Avenue had the highest number of crashes and injuries, with 22 crashes and six injuries.

Injury crashes and total injuries increased in May from April, according to the police department. In May, injuries were reported in 25 crashes, with 38 total injuries, and two fatalities.

Angle and rear-end crashes were most prevalent in May, with 53 of the former and 47 of the latter, Cason said. The hours between 4 and 7 p.m. had the most crashes, as that is "afternoon rush hour."

With 14 crashes due to inattentive or distracted driving in May, "we'll do more preventative measures" to try to change that trend, Cason said. "That's one of those things we can make an impact on with preventative-type patrols."

Financials

Through May, the police department remains on track with its fiscal year 2021 budget, as "we're about 3.5% under budget," Cason said. "At this time, we believe we'll have sufficient funds to meet demands and obligations we have for 2021."

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