Wrecks inside the City of Cullman appear headed for another record year, mostly because of distracted driving.
The Cullman Police Department worked at the scene of 1,004 wrecks in 2018 on public roads. Another 170 were documented on private property, such as business parking lots, said Officer Joey Duncan, who is a member of the department’s specialized Traffic Homicide Investigation Team.
“We are way ahead of the volume of accidents that you see in cities of similar size, such as Hartselle,” Duncan said. “For our size, we should be at about 360 to 380 crashes.”
The official cause of most of the wrecks is a term police log as “following too close.” But Duncan said that cause is often related to distracted driving.
Whether it is talking or texting on cell phones, or reaching over to grab something while driving, the potential effects are both damaging and deadly.
Seven fatalities were recorded in 2018 in Cullman, along with numerous injuries. In 2017, there were no fatalities in the city.
“Certainly, part of the factor is that Cullman is growing and a lot of people are coming here to shop. So, we have a lot more traffic than just a few years ago. We’ve got to get people to pay attention better. In a lot of fatalities, speed is one of the main reasons, but with the traffic signals and flow here the accidents are more related to distraction,” he said.
The Traffic Homicide Investigation Team has been called on at all hours when serious accidents occur. With special training, those officers perform a detailed investigation of the scene and at times send their information out for further analysis, which can result in a determination about charges or sending the case to the district attorney when deaths or serious injuries occur.
“Some of the investigations take a while because we often need to use a mapping station, which is equipment state troopers have,” Duncan said. “At some point, with all we are doing, we hope to have that equipment for our department. It would speed up some of the investigations.”
Duncan advised that motorists always wear seat belts, because at any speed an unrestrained driver can suffer serious injuries or death.
David Palmer may be contacted at 256-734-2131, ext. 116.