Plano PD: car crashes on the rise due to congestion, construction

Motorists along Dallas Parkway navigate lane closures last year. Similar closures are now occurring along the southernmost stretch of Ohio Drive in Plano.

Motorists along Dallas Parkway navigate lane closures last year. Similar closures are now occurring along the southernmost stretch of Ohio Drive in Plano.

At a Plano City Council preliminary meeting on Feb. 22, Police Chief Greg Rushin reported that the number of motor vehicle crashes in Plano have been increasing due to construction and congestion along major highways. A large percentage of these accidents occurred along US 75, where crashes were up 26 percent since 2014.

Rushin said the increase has a lot to do with congestion. The Texas Department of Transportation is expected to begin a widening project along US 75 this spring to relieve some of the current bottlenecking through Plano.

"This is concerning to us," Rushin said. "Some of that is because of construction projects in Plano but also from the north of [Plano] when traffic backs up. We have a lot of rear-end collisions there as well."

In addition, crashes along the Dallas North Tollway, the President George Bush Turnpike and the Sam Rayburn Tollway were collectively up 36 percent, Rushin said. This number includes accidents occurring along the frontage roads. Roughly half of car crashes in Plano involve non-Plano residents, he said.

Rushin also reported that, according to the Plano Police Department's annual performance report, major crimes in Plano have decreased 5.5 percent in 2015. Property and violent crimes were down 5.7 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. These calculations were based on the number of officers per 1,000 residents, according to the department.

Plano's major crime rate is currently the lowest in the city's recorded history, or since 1980. The number has been on a steady decline since 2006, Rushin said.

Approximately 23 percent of the city's budget goes toward its police department, said Rushin, who attributed the low crime numbers to  the department's talented force and its strong partnership with the community. Looking ahead, he said the department faces challenges, such as creating a more timely hiring process. Currently, the hire and training process for new officers can last anywhere from 18 to 24 months, Rushin said. Other challenges include increasing traffic volumes, population growth and enhancing mental health services.

"As we know, we're going to see great growth here in Plano," Rushin said. "The police department has very carefully watched this and are considering what we need to do as a police department to continue to provide the same quality of life that citizens are moving here for and that citizens enjoy currently."
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