INDIANAPOLIS — Among the many problems resulting from the pandemic, an Indianapolis city-county councilor says an increase in reckless driving leading to traffic accidents and deaths can be added to that list.
According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths across the US increased 8% over 2020, while the average number of miles driven decreased by 13%. In Marion County, that number is even higher. The circle city saw a 31% increase in traffic deaths.
City-county councilor John Barth says he receives emails on a weekly basis from constituents concerned about reckless driving. They say things have gotten particularly bad along Michigan Road and the 38th Street corridors. Barth, along with other city-county councilors, have come up with a plan.
“This is a long-standing issue but it’s gotten worse in the pandemic,” said Barth.
“It’s horrible. It’s dangerous,” said Joanna Franklin.
Franklin is the Crooked Creek Alert chair, an organization representing residents and businesses from 38th to 96th Street and Spring Mill to Georgetown Road.
“People have decided that they think they will make us a motor speedway and we are not taking that lying down,” she said. "We want it stopped.”
She and councilor Barth say irresponsible drivers took advantage of the decrease in traffic during the lockdown months, and are racing, speeding and just generally ignoring traffic laws.
“Somehow, people have determined that they were going to drag race up and down the street,” said Franklin. “They come down Kessler, they are down Michigan Road, people are weaving in and out up to 75 miles an hour down Grandview or down one of the streets here. It’s just dangerous. No one can get out of the way of that. It’s bad. It’s during the day and at night; it is horrible.”
In response, Barth, fellow councilors, IMPD and the city are launching a project to combat reckless driving with increased enforcement in traffic hot spots they’ve identified around the city, along with a public education campaign.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor supports this. The city is now dedicating $133,000 in overtime to place traffic enforcement officers in the following areas: Madison Avenue on the south side, Binford Boulevard on the east side, 38th Street from High School Road to Emerson, and Michigan Road from 38th Street to Kessler.
“We at the city-county council hear you,” said Barth. “We heard your concerns and we’re working closely with the city to identify this money and ensure that there are enhanced patrols that will take place hopefully starting in the next couple weeks.”
“It means a lot to the residents to know that the people in the position to change things are doing that,” said Franklin.