Studies show a slight change in Amarillo traffic behavior

The number of drivers on the road in Amarillo is growing, especially in peak hours of the day, but does that mean a change in traffic behavior?

According to Corporal, Jerry Neufeld, that isn't the case at all.

"As far as accidents are concerned we've seen a very, very slight increase this year compared to last year. No doubt more cars, more people out there on the roads, you're going to see an increase in collisions, as far as a huge increase, no we have not seen that," he said.

After crunching numbers there were 5,789 traffic accidents in 2012, compared to the 5,775 in 2011 and so far this year nearly 4,300 accidents have been reported. According to Amarillo Police Department (APD), there were 24 fatalities in 2012 and 23 so far this year. Neufeld said for some of those intersections seeing more traffic, adding another turning lane or signal doesn't always cut it.

City Traffic Engineer, Jerry Bird broke down a few intersections that have high volumes of traffic congestion.

"The other thing you're looking at when you talk about Bell and I-40, Coulter and I-40, Soncy and I-40, you're looking at a close diamond interchange. What that means is the two intersections are very close to each other." Bird said. "I've got one traffic signal controller at each one of those locations controlling both intersections so I can only let the east bound frontage road go. I can't allow the west bound to go at the same time."

According to city traffic engineers and APD who work together frequently when it comes to these issues, avoiding traffic accidents and tickets have little to do with changing things on the road and more about driver awareness.

"We pretty much just go through the accident reports that we're getting where they're occurring at." Neufeld said. "It may be just enforcement, it may just be the fact that we need to get an officer there a little more frequently to sit by the intersection."

The traffic commission does not hold the key to the city master plan, but it deals with individual issues, and that's the next best option for drivers.

"What we're trying to do now is if somebody has, either something has come up or they look around and say, 'hey, we could really use this to optimize traffic flow,' we'll then address those issues," City Traffic Commissioner, Mark Nair, said.

As for any major changes.

"We get lots of people making comments, of the traffic, people driving so-so and so, is going on. I know it's there but I think between media, social media and just the interaction with people, it's just verbalized so much more, because we're not seeing a definite increase," Neufeld said.