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Debt, Negligence Leave Detroit’s Roads a Deadly Place for Drivers, Pedestrians

A rash of traffic fatalities is leaving many in Detroit wondering just what the city government is going to do to improve traffic conditions. According to a report from Detroit News, the city has reached a record 69 traffic fatalities as of August 2, marking a year-over-year increase of 25% with four months left to go. Of the fatalities, 41 were a product of hit-and-run accidents.

Part of the problem is that the Motor City remains under a heap of debt, barely able to maintain its roadways, let alone buff up the police presence to get a handle on reckless drivers. For Steve Dolunt, Assistant Chief of the Detroit Police Department, the issue is just as much about “stupid” drivers as it is about a city grappling with its debt.

“There are a lot of reasons this is happening…poor lighting, people walking in the streets instead of using the sidewalks, texting while driving,” Dolunt said in an interview with Detroit News.

On the One Hand, the City of Detroit is Failing Its Citizens
There is undoubtedly a correlation between the uptick in traffic fatalities and the city’s continued financial problems. Detroit has struggled to find ways to pay off its $18 billion in debt, going so far as to declare bankruptcy and attempting to dissolve pension plans for city workers.

Currently, over half of the city’s traffic lights don’t work properly or at all, leading to much of the confusion between pedestrians and drivers that causes fatalities. Detroit estimates the lights will be replaced by 2016, unable to get the job done sooner because of a lack of funding and manpower.

On the Other, Increasingly Distracted Drivers Are to Blame
Having said that, the problem is exacerbated by the increase in drivers acting irresponsibly behind the wheel. As with most places across the country, drivers in Detroit are increasingly texting while driving. As of 2011, 3,311 people were killed due to distracted driving a year. With texting behind the wheel making a crash 23-times more likely and more drivers getting used to the practice, it’s no wonder why traffic-related fatalities continue to rise.

Have you been affected by the insane traffic and driving situation in Detroit? Share your stories with us in the comment section below.

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