Map of thousands of alcohol-related crashes reveals DUI 'hotspots' around the KC area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - There is a drunk-driving crash roughly once every six hours around the Kansas City area. They can happen on any day, at any time.

But a 41 Action News investigation compiled 7,366 of these alcohol-related wrecks from the past five years and plotted them on a map to identify patterns and “hotspots.”

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With the help of analysts at the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) , there were several takeaways from the research:

• The majority of crashes occur on the weekend between the hours of 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. (a major reason you hear about police DUI checkpoints during these time periods)

• Younger drivers are responsible for a large number of the wrecks. Drivers ages 20-34 tallied 51% of the incidents

• The crashes tend to concentrate in areas with the most urban development and on high-volume, high-speed roadways. For instance, I-35 and I-70 showed the largest number of drunk-driving collisions on both sides of the state line

“The numbers are a little bit staggering,” said Jim Hubbell, a senior transportation planner with MARC. “Drunk driving is a behavioral issue, so if this data and analysis can help positively impact people’s behavior, then that’s a good thing.”

Hubbell and his team also drilled down to identify “hotspots,” locations where a lot of crashes clustered together.

Some of the hotspots that emerged:

• Along I-35 in Johnson County (inside the I-435 loop), especially at the 87th Street, 75th Street and Shawnee Mission Parkway interchanges

• Along I-670 near the southern part of the downtown loop

• A portion of eastern Wyandotte County, between I-635 and the Missouri River, from State Avenue to I-70. This was a surprising find because the crashes clustered away from the high-volume interstates and throughout the older neighborhoods and slower-speed city streets. Hubbell said the analysis showed very few fatalities and a lot of collisions involved fixed objects and parked cars.

• A high density area around downtown Independence, again located away from interstates. This hotspot comprised of Independence Avenue to 23rd Street and from Blue Ridge Boulevard to Noland Road.

“It’s going to be a good tool,” Officer Michelle Koos told 41 Action News about the map of alcohol-related crashes.

Koos, a traffic enforcement officer with Overland Park, has worked dozens of DUI checkpoints during her law enforcement career.

“Police can use it as a resource to see where our resources would be best plotted. And I think it’s one of those things that could be eye-opening for the public,” she said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The points in the map represent each of the 7,366 alcohol-related wrecks in the Kansas City area between 2009-2013. Purple dots represent wrecks involving property damage only, red dots represent wrecks that resulted in fatalities. Green dots in Kansas represent wrecks involving injuries, while yellow and blue dots (in Missouri only due to classification) represent disabling injuries and minor injuries, respectively. The information used here was provided by the Kansas and Missouri departments of Transportation via the Mid-America Regional Council. Use of this data is restricted under 23 U.S.C. 409. Mobile and tablet app users can click here to see the map .

Joe Ruiz and Hannah Schmidt contributed to this report.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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