Waco: As work starts on I-35 project, traffic accidents jump

(Photo by Christy Soto)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Police have responded to more than twice as many traffic accidents this month on Interstate 35 in Waco compared to May 2018 and the start of work on a project to widen the highway is a factor.

So far this month alone, 47 crashes have been reported on the interstate, more than twice the 22 to which police responded in May 2018, according to a breakdown Waco Police Department Crime Analyst Angie McCallister provided to KWTX.

Overall in 2019 there has been a 22.34 percent increase in car crashes on the interstate in Waco.

Police say there are many factors that play into the number including the weather, the influx of people visiting Waco and the start of the construction.

“There is a lot of traffic in and around there and we do believe construction is a part of it,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

“It increases the accident rate because people are not using good common sense; they are coming into a construction zone on their phones, they are not paying attention as they should and unfortunately people get into crashes for those various reasons."

“A lot of people are tailgating in those areas, not leaving enough room for a reactionary gap, so what happens when traffic slows down people coming up from behind them don’t have time to slow down or stop appropriately,” Swanton said.

The heavy traffic on the highway makes it more difficult for officers to respond to accidents, he said.

“A couple of weeks ago our officers responded to an accident on I-35 and during that response they were having difficulties getting up to the scene of the accident because of the buildup in traffic,” Swanton said.

“Even an ambulance was involved. One of our ambulances responded to the initial crash and was involved in a secondary crash because a driver ran into the ambulance, so that delays medical help for people.”

He also says whenever there is an accident on the interstate they send more than one officer because more often than not there will be a second accident.

Police want to remind drivers to always avoid distractions while driving.

“My biggest advice is that they pay attention to driving, stay off your phones especially when you come into congested areas where construction is going on,” Swanton said.