Traffic accidents on decline

Traffic accidents are a certainty, especially on a college campus. With the amount of traffic congestion on any given school day, there are bound to be blunders from time to time.

Nearly three months into the fall semester, there have been 59 traffic crashes on campus, according to USF police activity reports. These accidents range from fender benders, to hit-and-runs, to pedestrian incidents.

The first day of the semester was notably ripe with traffic accidents, as three crashes occurred near Maple and Alumni drives. During one of the incidents, an automobile struck a University Police officer investigating one of the accidents.

Since Aug. 28, most of the accidents occurring on campus have taken place within parking lots. A large number have occurred in the Sun Dome parking lot.

According to UP spokesman Mike Klingebiel, many accidents happen during the middle of the day.

“I would say that most of the accidents occur during our heaviest commute times,” Klingebiel said. “Lot 22 near the Sun Dome has a huge turnover, and many accidents occur there. When commuter students arrive around 5 p.m. and staff members are leaving, there are accidents. When you put a lot of vehicles in motion at the same time, accidents are going to happen.”

Rachel Crump, a junior majoring in mass communications who said she generally arrives at USF around 2 p.m., claims traffic congestion all depends on how early you get to campus.

“The closer to the time my class starts, the harder it is (to get around),” Crump said. “At least 15 to 20 times I’ve almost gotten into an accident in the past two-and-a-half years. I don’t think you can fix the traffic problem on campus unless you make the campus twice the size.”

Klingebiel also noted that traffic accidents on campus up to this point are lower than in years past. Through Sept. 22 of the 2004 fall semester there were 445 reported accidents. A year later, that number has dropped to 280.

“The parking garages opening and the availability of spaces could aid in preventing the amount of accidents,” Klingebiel said.

Ground has already been broken for a new parking garage near the corner of Palm and Magnolia drives. Klingebiel attributes the trend of fewer mishaps to the addition of new spaces coupled with a lack of construction on campus.

“Construction on campus has been reduced over the last couple of years,” Klingebiel said. “(Construction) is not interfering with traffic. People are used to the areas where they can park.”

Another factor Klingebiel attributes to the reduction of on-campus accidents is the Bull Runner shuttle.

“The USF shuttle system has played a big role in prevention because the number of riders has gone up recently,” Klingebiel said. “When fewer cars compete for spots, there are less chances for accidents.”