INDIANAPOLIS — In the last few weeks we’ve seen four fatal hit-and-run crashes and a number of other deadly roadway collisions.
Soon, each deadly crash in Indianapolis will be reviewed to see what safety changes could be made to the area where the crash happened.
”It’s always been really needed,” said Damon Richards, the executive director of Bike Indianapolis.
Richards is the latest appointee to the five-person Fatal Crash Review Board. The board is a part of the newly-updated Complete Streets Ordinance. Richards is not officially a member yet; he still needs to be approved by the Indianapolis City-County Council.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of Metropolitan Development, the Department of Public Works, the Public Works Commission and the Indianapolis City-County Council each appoint a member to the board.
The board will meet once every quarter and review the data from every fatal crash, something we’re seeing a growing number of in Indianapolis.
”The problem is driven primarily by people driving too fast, people driving distracted and people not obeying traffic signals,” Richards said.
”We look at all the factors and say what things can be done that will hopefully prevent another fatality at this spot,” added Richards.
Those factors include the environment around the crash, enforcement in the area and education of drivers.
”We ultimately make recommendations to various city departments about things we think could have helped alleviate those crashes,” Richards said.
When it comes to enviorment, Richards said it can be things as simple as trimming trees sticking out into the road to more complex problems.
”Environment includes the built environment, how the roads are designed and how they are signalized or not signalized,” he said.
Enforcement can also mean a variety of things.
”One thing Bike Indianapolis has pushed for is more automated traffic enforcement to use red light cameras and speed limit cameras, because we really don’t want to use our law enforcement officers’ time like that. There is more important things for them to be doing,” Richards said.
Education could be an easier approach.
”Maybe it’s as simple as a few public service announcements talking about how dangerous it is to be texting while you’re driving or distracted,” Richards said.
Bicycle Garage Indy Advocacy Director Connie Szabo Schmucker said the board can hopefully be an avenue to safer infrastructure in Indy.
”You can’t design for speed and expect safety,” Schmucker said. “You have to design for safety.”
She hopes the board looks at the deeper reasons behind fatal crashes.
”You have to take it down a couple of levels. Why were they going fast? What allowed them to go fast?” said Schmucker.
The recommendations the Fatal Crash Review Board makes are only recommendations; no city entities have to do them. Richards said they will be following up, though.
”Every time a report gets issued we are going to go and ask, ‘What is your response to this report?'” he said.
Richards added he hopes the board can work proactively, not just reactively, by taking solutions from problem areas and spreading them to similar areas across the city.
”I hope we can spread that on and say, ‘Where are other spots like that in the city that we should at least make a little asterisk and say the next time we do something here we should fix this problem?'” Richards said.
Richards said there has not been a date set yet for the first official meeting of the Fatal Crash Review Board.