The number of traffic fatalities on roads under the jurisdiction of the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) has bucked the national trend and gone down over the past three years, and the traffic fatality rate on Oakland roads remains below half of both the state and national rates.
For calendar year 2021, there were 23 fatalities on RCOC roads. Five were alcohol and/or drug related.
For the year, the county had a traffic-fatality rate of 0.56 deaths per 100 million miles of vehicle travel, while the statewide rate was 1.14 deaths per 100 million miles of vehicle travel and the national rate was 1.33.
“If we had experienced the statewide average number of fatalities on our roads, we would have lost about 26 more people last year just on RCOC roads,” RCOC Managing Director Dennis Kolar said.
The lowest number of fatalities on RCOC roads in recent years was in 2020 when 13 traffic-related deaths were reported. With residents staying home at the start of the pandemic, there were far fewer motorists on the road in that year.
“Safety continues to be the top priority for RCOC,” said RCOC Chair Andrea LaLonde. “RCOC works to make sure all facets of the agency are using safety to guide their decision-making processes, including training, road-project selection and road-maintenance practices,” she added.
RCOC has consistently been on the cutting edge of traffic-safety innovations such as:
- Annual safety reviews of the 50 intersections and road segments with the highest crash rates to determine what can be done to improve safety (including the use of customized software to analyze crash data).
- Modern roundabouts -- RCOC has the highest concentration of roundabouts in Michigan, with 32 in operation and four more to be constructed this year. These circular intersections have been shown to dramatically reduce traffic fatalities and serious-injury accidents.
- Wider white edge lines (widened from four inches to six inches to improve visibility and durability).
- Paved shoulders which help prevent “run off” accidents when cars inadvertently swerve off the road -- without paved shoulders, it is far more likely the car will lose control.
- Numerous technology innovations, such as:
- Operating one of the largest systems of high-end “adaptive” traffic signals in the nation (signals that detect the number of vehicles present in each direction and automatically adjust signal timing in real time to best meet the traffic needs at that moment),
- Being among the first agencies to adapt LED bulbs in traffic signals and
- Continued work with the Federal Highway Administration and auto industry on “connected vehicles” that will allow cars to “talk” to road infrastructure, etc.
- Road-project safety audits, in which cross-disciplinary RCOC teams study proposed projects to ensure all safety concerns are addressed.
- Pavement rumble strips that alert motorists when they travel out of their lanes.
- Detailed winter-maintenance guidelines that spell out how many snowplows/salt trucks should be used in every type of situation and when they should be deployed.
- High-friction surface treatments to prevent vehicles from running off the road at sharp curves.
- And much, much more.
- Here are the number of fatalities reported on RCOC roads for each year since 2001:
2001: 35 2007: 25 2013: 14 2019: 37
2002: 38 2008: 20 2014: 18 2020: 13
2003: 29 2009: 19 2015: 30 2021: 23
2004: 34 2010: 25 2016: 39
2005: 41 2011: 36 2017: 29
2006: 33 2012: 23 2018: 23