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Driving toward disaster: What El Paso roadways triple chances of crashes

Every time someone gets behind the wheel there's a chance of driving toward disaster.

KFOX14 hit the streets to find out where you could be on course for a crash.

Thousands of drivers hit the road in the Borderland every day and for some the drive is smooth but for others it's a gamble, depending on the route they take.

There are well-known trouble spots during morning and evening rush hours. Add roadwork to the mix and it can be a nightmare.

Lisa Miller moved here from another state. Miller, who lives on the busy far eastside, blames drivers for a majority of the traffic issues she sees and has experienced.

“There's definitely crazy drivers here in El Paso. I'm from California so I thought that was bad but coming here it's a little bit worse. I see crashes everywhere I go and it’s normally because people just aren’t paying attention," said Miller.

Being stuck in traffic isn’t fun but there's nothing worse than being in a crash.

Miller recalls an accident she was in not too long ago near home.

"It was horrible because all of a sudden you just hear a crunch. I was panicking, my body was really stiff and I was shaking the whole time,” she said.

Crashes aren't just a danger for those involved they put others on the road at risk along with first responders responding to the scene.

Sgt. Enrique Carrillo, public information officer with the El Paso Police Department, told KFOX14 traffic calls are among the worst officers handle.

“We just hate to be out there. We don't enjoy it and unfortunately while we're investigating traffic collisions it's not uncommon to see other collisions or to witness near misses while we’re on scene. It’s chaotic trying to clear wrecks off the major roadways and interstate, especially during the rush hours,” he said.

Traffic data from the Texas Department of Transportation showed the most crashes in town happen on roads on the eastside and far eastside.

Last year, the stretch of I-10 between Zaragoza Road and McRae Boulevard saw the most crashes with over 600. A majority of the crashes happened between Yarbrough Drive and McRae Boulevard.

That's followed by the Loop 375 between Pebble Hills Drive and Rojas Drive with over 400 crashes.

Two other areas of I-10 saw over 400 crashes: between Mesa Street to Executive Boulevard and Copia Street to Geronimo Drive.

TxDOT district engineer Bob Bielek said these crashes don’t happen only during certain times of the day but time of the year.

“We have an awful lot of accidents in November, in December and we have a lot of accidents towards the end of the school year,” he said.

Bielek added that rural roads in the county are overwhelmed because of the sudden growth on the far eastside. Sgt. Christopher Paz, with the El Paso County Sherriff's Office, reiterated the same.

"The eastside has just exploded. There's community and residential areas from the El Paso city limits all the way to Horizon City and around to Montana Vista and Socorro Texas itself,” he said.

Many roads are under construction to help ease congestion but the county has seen hundreds of crashes despite those efforts. Paz told KFOX14 deputies saw more than 1,400 crashes last year with most of them being at different intersections along Eastlake Drive and Horizon Boulevard.

Bielek said city and countywide 77 of the thousands of crashes last year were deadly.

That's fewer than 2016 but traffic experts believe it was just luck.

They all said drivers still need to focus on traffic safety because most if not all crashes can be avoided if drivers were just more alert and dropped bad habits like texting and driving, other inattention in the vehicle and failure to control speed.

The traffic experts said while they encourage drivers to be alert and do their part they’re doing more to help too. Currently additional deputies and officers are on duty at crash prone sites during peak hours

and Bielek said TxDOT is engineering infrastructure to help traffic flow and slow down drivers.

“We're going more and more toward round about as opposed to complete stops or even signalized intersections and not so much that they eliminate accidents but they reduce the severity of accidents,” he said.

Currently major roadwork is underway like the GO 10 project and Border West expressway

TxDOT officials remind drivers need to respect the work zones for everyone’s safety.

“When you're on the edge, when you're right next to that traffic it's scary being out there. Remember 90 percent of the people killed in construction sites are not workers. They’re the passengers and the drivers of the cars in those construction sites,” said Bielek.

Carrillo offered one last reminder for drivers to keep in mind.

“Steer it and clear it. If you're involved in an accident assess everyone involved for injuries, if there aren't any injuries and your vehicles are drivable then state law requires you to move out of the roadway. If you’re passing by a crash law also requires that you move over.”

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