Tulsa Police: Distractions, Not Speed, More Common During Rush Hour Wrecks

Wednesday, January 21st 2015, 8:14 pm

Two separate accidents stopped traffic on Highway 169 Wednesday morning.

Police said a driver lost control near 11th and hit a truck. Three children in the SUV and the pick-up driver were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

Then, just minutes later, the driver of another SUV lost control on 169 at the BA interchange and hit a pick-up.

Tulsa Police said they're seeing more accidents like this, especially during rush hour, but said speeding isn't the man cause.

While it is an issue on 169, police said at rush hour the bigger issue - the one leading to lots of accidents - is people being on the phone and not paying attention to what's in front of them.

We've all seen the traffic, and the speeds, on Highway 169, where small accidents can quickly lead to big traffic jams.

The police and highway patrol are out writing tickets, but police said speeding is more a middle of the day problem. They said at rush hour it changes.

"When it's not rush hour we do focus on speed, but most of the rush hour collisions, speed is not the factor," said Corporal Brian Collum, Tulsa Police.

Collum leads a traffic unit that works 169. He said the accidents Wednesday morning were typical.

"Three of the collisions this morning was cars trying to avoid the car in front of them and then not being able to keep control of their vehicle. So they would turn to avoid a collision and then over-correct, trying to get back into their lane, and end up hitting another car," he said.

Collum blames drivers texting or talking on the phone for causing most of the collisions at rush hour, but said speed is the problem when there's less traffic.

We took our News On 6 truck down 169 driving at exactly the speed limit, 65 miles per hour. Plenty of people passed us, some while talking on the phone.

Anyone driving a constant speed will pass a few cars, but at the speed limit more cars will go on around.

According to ODOT, Highway 169 through Tulsa carries on average 115,000 cars per day.

The combination of heavy traffic, some speeding, and distractions behind the wheel is what the police want to see stopped.

"Basically I would love to see, see, people pay attention during rush hour. Get off your phone until you get to work," Collum said.

According to ODOT, the busiest section of 169 is south of the BA, towards 71st, with 123,000 cars per day.