The sights and sounds of a car wreck — twisted metal, shattered glass, the sound of shrieking sirens — were seen and heard less often in Ridgefield in 2018 than the previous year.
According to crash statistics published by the University of Connecticut, the town reported 453 motor vehicles accidents across its 168 miles of roads. The crash results also include accidents that happened on Ridgefield’s seven state highways — Route 7, Route 33, Route 35, Route 102, Route 116, State Road 822 (Catoonah Street and West Mountain Road), and State Road 835 (West Lane/South Salem Road to N.Y. Route 123).
Compared to the 509 crashes that were reported in 2017, there were 56 fewer accidents last year.
Of the 453 crashes reported in 2018, 11% resulted in a “possible injury,” the report said. Six accidents involved a “suspected serious injury.”
There were no fatal car crashes in Ridgefield in 2018, according to the report.
Where did they crash?
Most of the accidents occurred along state roads.
Route 35 claimed the most motor vehicle crashes, with 144 reported during the year.
Location data included in the report showed a significant number of accidents occurred on the section of road between the Main Street intersection and the Parks and Rec driveway.
“The state roads, especially Route 35, have a great deal of traffic,” said Maj. Steven Brown of the Ridgefield Police Department. “Route 35 has many stop-and-go areas — intersections, traffic control devices, and driveway cutouts.”
Route 7 had the second highest number of accidents in 2018 (92), followed by Route 116 (29).
The data show accidents on Route 7 were concentrated along the stretch of road near the Branchville train station.
The four-way intersection where Cains Hill Road and Topstone Road connect to Route 7 also saw a high concentration of accidents, as did the Danbury Road (Route 35) intersection with Route 7, near the Valero gas station.
Rear-ending most common
But intersections played a role in only 133 (29%) of the 453 accidents reported in 2018.
Fifty-one percent of the accidents — 231 — reported during the year occurred along normal stretches of road.
Rear-ending collisions were the most common. Out of all the accidents reported during the year, 189 involved a rear-ending, about 42%.
“Rear-end collisions have been the most common type of accident we’ve investigated for many years. Most often, these are cases of inattention by drivers or following too closely,” said Maj. Brown.
Single-vehicle crashes came in second, with 112 crashes (27%) for the year.
Distracted, impaired driving
Following too closely was the reason most often given as contributing to a crash — even more than driving under the influence, or texting and driving.
Following too closely was cited as a contributing factor in 111 crashes in 2018 — about a quarter of the accidents reported during the year.
Texting while driving, or the use of some other electronic device that distracted the driver, was listed as a factor in two accidents.
Drivers who were intoxicated at the time of the crash made up a relatively small number of those involved in accidents. Out of 740 drivers involved in a crash, 11 were reportedly under the influence (there were nine in 2017).
Deer strikes caused 17 accidents in 2018.
In 49 crashes, a driver failing to grant the right of way was listed as a contributing factor. Drivers failing to stay in their lane contributed to 43 crashes.
Despite a year marked by winter and spring storms that downed trees and utility poles, most of the motor vehicle accidents recorded in 2018 occurred on dry pavement during daylight hours.
Out of all crashes, 310 (68%) occurred on dry pavement. Eighty-nine crashes (20%) occurred on wet pavement, while 35 (6%) occurred on snowy roads. There were 14 crashes related to icy or frost-covered roads (3%), and three crashes related to slush.
Daytime crashes made up the vast majority of the collisions recorded in 2018, with 338 (75%) during daylight hours. Ninety-eight crashes occurred at night — 59 (13%) in illuminated areas, 39 (9%) in areas that were not lighted.
Young drivers were involved in accidents at a higher rate than older drivers. Out of 810 drivers involved in an accident during the year, 192 (24%) were between the ages of 16 and 25.
Middle-aged drivers were the second most-likely age group to be involved in an accident, with 158 drivers (20%), between the ages of 46 and 55 involved in a crash.
Drivers in their 60s had the lowest number of accidents, with drivers aged 61-70 involved in 74 accidents (9%) during the year.
Crashing or not, the report also holds one bright statistic. Out of 963 people involved in a motor vehicle accident (drivers and their passengers) in 2018, 772 — 95% — were wearing a shoulder and lap belt at the time of the crash.