Traffic in Merriam continues to rise, but traffic crashes are below projected expectations. The Merriam Police Department said a geomapping program it started a year ago may be the reason why.
In March 2017, police began using Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Study (DDACTS) enforcement to identify areas with high incidences of crime, crashes, and traffic violations. The program uses statistics to determine the most effective places and times to patrol areas in Merriam.
Statistics from the past five years showed overlapping high points of crime and crashes around Merriam Town Center and down toward Shawnee Mission Parkway. The information has allowed the department to increase its patrol efficiency along Shawnee Mission Parkway north to Antioch Road, across 55th St. and down Merriam Drive.
In its first year, Merriam officers spent nearly 2,200 hours – or 6 percent of all traffic enforcement hours – patrolling areas identified with DDACTS. Those DDACTS hours accounted for 53 percent of all traffic stops and 49 percent of citations for the year.
Traffic crashes have also decreased within the past year. Based on a five-year trend that coincided with increased daytime traffic along Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam was projected to have 242 traffic crashes in 2017. Police said 228 crashes occurred in the DDACTS zone last year.
Merriam Police Chief Michael Daniels said using DDACTS seems to be working, but said the program is still in its infancy stage and that the department would have to continue using DDACTS to be able to get a complete picture.
“In reality, these are preliminary numbers,” Chief Daniels said. “It’s hard to tell the complete effects DDACTS has with just one year of information, but so far, we like what we see.”
Chief Daniels said it would take about five years of data to get a better sense of whether DDACTS works in Merriam.