Cal Trans numbers and study on Highway 99 don't match

Caltrans, ValuePenguin study have differences in Fresno fatalities. (Oct.14, 2016)

If you think there's a lot of accidents on Highway 99, you're right.

Hwy. 99 is the deadliest road in the United States, according to a new study by ValuePenguin, a private research company that analyzes consumer data.

But a major finding in the study doesn't match the California Department of Transportation's data, possibly giving reason to dig deeper into the study's numbers.

Hwy. 99 stretches more than 400 miles across Central California. Along the way is Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and other Valley cities like Merced and Fresno.

The study explained that despite Hwy. 99 being much shorter than most of the nation's 2.7 million roads, it had the most fatal accidents per 100 miles than any other road in the country.

HWY 99 in numbers from 2011 to 2015, according to ValuePenguin:

  • 264 total fatal accidents
  • 62.3 fatal accidents for every 100 miles 
  • Fresno is the deadliest city with 34 fatal accidents

According to Value Penguin, researchers reached their conclusions by looking at FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) of the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration. 

Cal Trans spokesperson Angela DaPrato said that although the agency needs to analyze the study's numbers and sources, the agency did find a major difference in the number of fatalities in Fresno on Hwy. 99 from ValuePenguin.

While the study found 34 fatalities between 2011 and 2015, DaPrato said Cal Trans records show 21 fatalities in Fresno in the same time period- most connected to pedestrians walking into the highway.

However, the DaPrato said the study's data on drunk drivers aligns with Cal Trans.

"There have been a lot of drunk driving accidents on Hwy 99," DaPrato said.

The study's findings show drunk driving may be a major contributing factor to the dangers of Hwy 99. 

The highway has the second most drunk drivers after I-45 in Texas, with a total of 50 fatal accidents involving a drunk driver.

ValuePenguin also found Hwy. 99 to be the darkest road in the nation and that 108 fatalities-which is nearly 40 percent of all the fatal accidents on Hwy. 99- happened in the dark. 

Cal Trans has been using $1 billion to make Highway 99 safer over the past decade, after state voters approved $20 billion in infrastructure bonds in 2006 under Proposition 1B. Hwy. 99 is the only freeway highlighted in Prop 1B. 

Cal Trans partners with other agencies in an effort to inform the public about the dangers of drunk driving through platforms like news releases and social media, DaPrato said.

She also said there are several completed projects such as the widening of lanes on stretches along Hwy. 99 including in Stockton and Merced.

Cal Trans works by evaluating highways and then using the findings to decide whether a project needs to be developed to ensure better safety.

When asked about the study finding Hwy. 99 to be the darkest road in the country, DaPrato said that issue hasn't been identified by Cal Trans yet and is still being assessed. 

"We'll continue to look into the data but I know we've made lots of improvements in the past years," DaPrato said.

She encouraged the public to speak up if they saw a problem spot on the roads.

The Elk Grove City Council approved a $130 million casino deal September 28, which will be built along Hwy. 99. Nearby residents and drivers have already expressed concerns with the how this will impact Hwy. 99 on ABC10's Facebook page.

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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