Manheim Township Police search for answers to most reportable crashes per capita in PA

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. --- The Manheim Township Police Department does not want their community to be number one.

Number one in the most reportable crashes per capita in the entire commonwealth, that is.

"Reportable" meaning crashes that involved injury and/or towing.

Manheim Township Police Chief Thomas Rudzinski said they first found out about their unfortunate title in 2017.

He said they set a goal to cut down crashes for 2018, leading to a record number of traffic citations and warnings written by officers (approx. 11,000).

However, after Chief Rudzinkski analyzed the 2018 PennDOT crash statistics, he found they were still number one for 2018.

“All that enforcement that we’ve done, I don’t know if it had a direct impact on our crashed. We didn’t go up by much, but we did have an increase. We did see an increase in crashes," said Rudzinski.

He explained that Manheim Township ranks ninth out of all municipalities in Pennsylvania in total reportable crashes WITH 815 in 2018.

After adjusting to population size, Rudzinksi says Manheim Township shoots up to number one with roughly 20 crashes per one thousand people.

He said Philadelphia has roughly six crashes per one thousand people.

Rudzinkski said three intersections stick out as problem spots: The Route 30 and Fruitville Pike intersection near Belmont Shoppes, the Route 30 and Lititz Pike intersection near the Lancaster Shopping Center, and the New Holland Avenue and Route 30 intersection.

He said the best they can do, right now, is to continue enforcement.

“I’m not sure where the answer lies. I know PennDOT has plans to make some improvements in the area and I’m hopeful that will have a direct impact but that’s never quick and it takes a while to get to that point," said Rudzinski.

Rudzinski said the department receives help from local, state and federal agencies with enforcement funding, including PennDOT, AAA, and the PA Aggressive Driving Enforcement & Education Project.

He said they appreciate the issue being recognized, but they're still facing a problem.

“They see the problem, too, and are trying to help us get a handle on it, as well but it’s kind of frustrating that we need to take one more step beyond that," said Rudzinski.

PennDOT officials say the greatest challenge with the area is "lots of volume."

A spokesperson with the department says police officers can only do "so much" with the grant funding they provide because their coverage area in problem spots does not have a lot of room to pursuit offenders or set up enforcement.

Barbara Zortman, regional coordinator of the PA Aggressive Driving Enforcement & Education Project, which includes Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York Counties said Manheim Township Police is one of its "top performers" that covers a "huge" amount of high-traffic areas.

The funding received from PennDOT for aggressive driving enforcement is conducted in three waves throughout the year; usually 4-6 weeks in length," said Zortman. "Although it helps the department conduct overtime enforcement above and beyond their already outstanding enforcement efforts, the department has a tough jurisdiction."

Rudzinski said they will continue reaching out to PennDOT and state legislators to try and find an answer to the crash problem.

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