Katrina Daugherty has driven the streets and highways of North Richland Hills for about 30 years, and while she's had a few fender-benders, she's never been in a major traffic accident.
She maintained her safe driving record last year with no crashes, even though she travels some of the city's most clogged routes.
Safety might have been on the minds of a number of other motorists in North Richland Hills last year, as the number of motor vehicle accidents fell to 713 -- down 64 percent from 2007. The number of accidents causing injuries fell from 269 to 30.
"That surprises me," Daugherty said. "Davis [Boulevard] traffic is so bad."
The decline in motor vehicle accidents came even as the city's population -- and traffic -- continued to grow. In 2000, the county's third-largest city had 55,635 residents; there were 63,343 in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
While traffic accidents are down, traffic citations are up. Last year, 27,067 tickets were issued, a 36 percent increase from 19,878 in 2007, according to police statistics.
Police see a tie between the increased traffic tickets and the decreased traffic accidents.
Extra patrols, special traffic enforcement programs and the red-light camera program, which began in 2007, have reduced accidents, police say.
"Focusing police attention to areas where accidents occur, coupled with other factors, can impact the amount of traffic accidents in a given area," said Investigator Keith Bauman, a department spokesman.
Other factors also come into play, he noted. "This is a work product that can vary for any number of reasons such as staffing levels, weather, workload, etc.," Bauman said.
The improvements come in a city where tens of thousands of motorists are on the streets and highways every day.
Nearly 139,000 vehicles a day travel on Northeast Loop 820 in both directions near Iron Horse Boulevard, according to 2009 traffic counts from the North Central Texas Council of Governments. That's up from about 136,000 vehicles a day in 2004.
On Rufe Snow Drive, just north of Loop 820, about 30,700 vehicles a day pass through the area, compared with 26,600 in 2004.
On Davis Boulevard at Main Street, about 34,000 vehicles pass by on a typical day, down slightly from about 35,000 in 2004.
Harvey Fornof, who has operated ABC Towing in the city for 27 years, said he can't believe that the number of traffic accidents is down.
"I just don't see how," he said. "For everyone who moves here, they have at least three vehicles." But Fornof said he knows the red-light cameras have probably caused people to slow down.
The city now has cameras at seven intersections, according to police. All are on Rufe Snow Drive or Davis Boulevard, the city's major north-south routes.
The red-light camera program has also added to the total of citations issued in the past three years, police said.
According to police statistics, speeding was the most often cited infraction last year, followed by expired registration. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that speeding is one of the most common factors in traffic crashes.
Speeding-related crashes cost Americans about $40.4 billion a year, the NHTSA estimated.
Daugherty says she watches out for patrol officers.
"I know motorcycle cops are out there," Daugherty said. "And I know about the red-light cameras that we have in this city."
Staff writer Gordon Dickson contributed to this report.
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