INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization is hoping different voices and new ideas can raise public awareness on how to make streets safer in Indianapolis.

The IMPO hosted a public conversation Tuesday led by national and local voices focused on improving traffic safety.

”We saw a surge in these crashes beginning in 2020, and we have not seen it go back down,” said Andrea Miller, the Senior Planner at IMPO.

Miller said the IMPO tracks dangerous crashes in Indy and has seen a rise in such incidents. The organization is hoping to change the public perception on traffic crashes.

”This isn’t inevitable,” Miller said. “We don’t not have to accept that all these people will die while trying to do something as basic as go to work.”

The public conversation started with a presentation by Jesse Singer, the author of “There Are No Accidents.” She shared her perspective on how communities can prevent dangerous traffic crashes.

Afterward, Singer was joined by local activists Damon Richards and Laura Slusher. Richards is the former Executive Director of Bike Indianapolis and the Safe Routes to School Manager at Health by Design. Slusher is a project manager at Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP).

Miller said the focus isn’t so much on driver behavior, but how the built environment influences driving habits. 

”Incredibly straight and wide-laned roads make people tend to speed because they feel like they can see everything,” Miller said.

”There are a lot of different things that influence the way we drive in our urban design.”

Sgt. John Perrine with the Indiana State Police said troopers are also seeing dangerous habits on the roads.

”We have seen an increase in reckless driving and driving behavior that leads to road rage behavior that leads to further violence,” Perrine said.

For Perrine, it comes down to selfish driving. 

”People drive with only themselves in mind,” Perrine said. “They’re in a hurry to get somewhere or someone else is an inconvenience to them.”

Perrine added that ISP is using multiple strategies to combat reckless driving, including some as simple as just being present where they believe dangerous driving is happening.

“Just being visible and being there,” Perrine said. “What you see often times is police officers sitting before construction zones with the goal of slowing people down going into those construction zones.”

This was the fifth community conversation the IMPO has hosted. The IMPO will host another community conversation in November about traffic congestion.