Lexington, KY, Road Safety Overview

Lexington, KY, has a relatively good road safety record for a city its size. In a survey of 100 U.S. cities, Lexington ranked as the 29th safest city for drivers.

However, Lexington has one of the highest rates of traffic congestion in the country and a high percentage of uninsured drivers.

Here is an overview of road safety issues facing Lexington, KY.

Lexington Accidents and Injury Rates

Lexington has not yet completed its data collection for 2021 traffic accidents. And 2020’s data has several anomalies due to pandemic lockdowns in March and April. As a result, 2019 is the most recent year with typical accident data from Lexington.

In an average year, Lexington has between 16,000 and 17,000 traffic collisions. Most of these cause property damage only. In 2019, Lexington had 2,070 injury crashes and 25 fatal crashes out of 16,375 total crashes.

Lexington has a population of almost 324,000 residents. This gives Lexington an injury rate of 639 injury crashes per 100,000 residents. For comparison, the U.S. injury rate was 835 injury crashes per 100,000 residents that same year. Lexington motorists were injured at a much lower rate than motorists in the rest of the U.S.

Traffic Fatalities in Lexington

Traffic fatalities in Lexington peaked in 2016 and have trended downward since then. In 2016, Lexington had 50 traffic fatalities, including 10 pedestrians. By 2019, Lexington was down to 33 traffic fatalities, with 4 pedestrians killed.

This reduction in fatalities is a major achievement for Lexington. The city’s fatality rate in 2016 was almost 16 deaths per 100,000 residents. This was 43% above the national average of 11 deaths per 100,000 residents.

By 2019, Lexington’s death rate dropped to 10.2 deaths per 100,000 residents. Lexington’s rate is now 7% below the national average.

Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections in Lexington

One reason for this improvement is the detail provided by the Lexington Police Department to city planners about traffic accident locations. Every year, the Lexington Police Department assembles a crash map showing the locations of that year’s car accidents and pedestrian accidents.

City planners and the police department can use this information to improve roads, traffic control signals, and enforcement of traffic laws. This, in turn, reduces the number and severity of traffic accidents in these locations.

In its partial 2021 data set, the Lexington Police Department identified several roads and intersections where multiple accidents had occurred, including:

Citation Boulevard and Georgetown Road

This intersection had a severe problem with red-light running. Police identified seven crashes at this intersection in just ten months that resulted from a driver who ran a red light.

Nicholasville Road

This road had two intersections where red-light running caused multiple accidents. The intersection of Nicholasville Road and Man O’ War Boulevard had five red-light running accidents. And the intersection of Nicholasville Road and Moore Drive also had five crashes caused when drivers ran red lights.

Man O’ War Boulevard

This road and many of its intersections appear every year in the Lexington Police Department’s report. The intersection of Man O’ War Boulevard and Nicholasville Road has about 25 accidents every year. And the intersection with Pleasant Ridge Drive/Sir Barton Way has about 30 accidents every year.

In addition to its dangerous intersections, Man O’ War Boulevard has several segments where collisions happen between intersections. 

The Lexington Police Department highlights the section between Darby Creek Road and Mapleleaf Drive as particularly dangerous. The section between Alumni Drive and Easthills Drive also sees a lot of car crashes.

East New Circle Road

This road has several segments where between-street collisions happen. Adding these incidents together reveals that East New Circle Road averages over 100 collisions every year.

Causes of Crashes in Lexington

The Lexington Police Department tracks the causes of traffic accidents in the city. Inattentive driving causes 21% of accidents in Lexington. When combined with the 5% of accidents caused by distracted driving, Lexington drivers could cut the number of accidents by over 26% by paying attention while they drive.

Drivers who fail to keep their vehicles under proper control cause 16% of Lexington’s accidents. These causes can include oversteering, understeering, and driving too fast for conditions.

Failure to yield is the third most common cause of traffic accidents in Lexington.

Together, inattention, improper control, and failure to yield cause over half of all Lexington traffic accidents.

Pedestrian Safety in Lexington

Another area where Lexington has improved is pedestrian safety. Pedestrian accidents peaked in 2017 and have dropped steadily since then.

In 2019, pedestrian accidents were down 16% from their peak. The 160 pedestrian accidents in 2019 caused four fatalities. This was the fewest number of pedestrians killed since 2015. It also represented a drop of 73% from the 15 pedestrians killed just one year earlier.

But Lexington drivers have room to improve pedestrian safety even further. Most of the accidents in 2019 occurred when pedestrians were crossing with a traffic signal inside a crosswalk at an intersection. In other words, the fault for most pedestrian accidents in 2019 fell on the driver who hit the pedestrian.

The Future of Road Safety in Lexington

The Lexington Police Department provides granular detail about the traffic accidents that happen within the city. The city can use this information to design better roads and allocate traffic management resources. By improving roads and managing traffic, the city has improved traffic safety for motorists, pedestrians and the recently trending e-scooters.

The Lexington Police Department has also developed an innovative program to help improve safety. The department has appointed safety officers who focus specifically on traffic accidents. This means dedicated units respond to traffic issues. It also frees up police officers to focus on crime rather than traffic.

Lexington can still do more. It does not have a Vision Zero plan to coordinate the government’s efforts to reduce traffic accidents and improve road safety. Communities to the north of Lexington have developed a Vision Zero plan, but this initiative has not reached Lexington.

Over time, the efforts of the Lexington Police Department and the city and county government should improve the safety of residents and visitors as they travel Lexington’s roads.

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