The start of the spring semester at Virginia Tech began with four crashes on campus.
Even though it was fewer crashes than had happened in January the past three years, there were more injured pedestrians.
Every year, the Tech Police Department distributes reports to their officers with an analysis of the traffic incidents of the year. The reports include the total numbers of accidents, the type of accidents and what areas have had the most incidents that year.
The Collegiate Times took a look at these police reports as well as trends around Virginia.
At approximately 9:00 a.m. on Jan. 30, the Blacksburg Police Department was called to investigate a traffic incident on Draper Street outside the Kent Street parking garage.
The incident involved a female driver crashing into a bicyclist. The driver was charged with failure to yield the right of way, and the bicyclist only suffered minor injuries.
Later that same day, at approximately 5:45 in the afternoon, another vehicle hit three students in a pedestrian crosswalk on West Campus Drive near the Harper Lot. According to the driver, the windows were fogged up, and they couldn’t see the students in the crosswalk. All of the students were released with minor injuries.
For 2012, the police department reported a total of 66 accidents on campus. Fourteen of the accidents involved bicyclists — some of which did not involve an additional vehicle — and six involved pedestrians.
“Pedestrians and bikes are our two high risk activities in terms of traffic,” said Lieutenant Deborah Morgan with Tech Police.
Over the past three years, there has been an average of 65 accidents on campus every year. Ten percent of the accidents involve pedestrians and 24 percent involve bicycles.
“I always make sure I follow all of the rules when biking, even the ones that most people aren’t aware of,” said Nadia Doutcheva, a freshman in Industrial Systems Engineering.
The number of accidents decrease during the summer months and spike during the fall and spring semester months, especially at the beginning of fall semester.
“We work traffic enforcement a lot — it hasn’t changed because we do it often," Morgan said. "We do target (certain areas), and that information goes out monthly to the officers, and that does modify our enforcement based on where, historically, we’ve had the highest pedestrian, bike or vehicle crashes.”
Despite the increase during the fall and spring semesters, there has been an average of five accidents per month for the past three years.
“The speed limit on the Drillfield is 15 for a reason — because of the number of pedestrians," Morgan said. "We have so much that goes on in such a tight area of campus, and it all contributes to traffic crashes in one way or another.”
Last October, there were a record number of incidents in one month with a total of 11 accidents, two of which were pedestrians and five of which were bicyclists.
“There's a direct relationship between the number of cars on the road and the number of accidents that occur, so it's no surprise that there's an increase during the semester," said John Sangster, a graduate student in Civil Engineering who did a TedX talk on traffic — his studies are focused in traffic engineering. "However, there's usually more going on than one simple factor.”
In 2012, the most accidents occurred on West Campus Drive with 12 accidents out of the total 66 accidents on campus. West Campus Drive was also listed as the top crash location for both bicyclists and pedestrians with three and two accidents respectfully. Other hot spots from 2011 and 2012 include Washington Street, Southgate Drive and Drillfield Drive.
“I always stop at crosswalks and for people crossing the road," said Angelica Melara, a junior Animal Science major. "I have to make sure that people aren’t crossing because some walk out into the middle of the road and some wait.”