I-80 wrecks: If you thought there were more than usual at Floriston, you’re right (video) | SierraSun.com

I-80 wrecks: If you thought there were more than usual at Floriston, you’re right (video)

Interstate 80 at the Floriston Way exit on Nov. 30, 2016.
Amanda Rhoades / Sierra Sun |

By the numbers

57: accidents in 2016

24: accidents in 2015

12: accidents in 2014

13: accidents in 2013

18: accidents in 2012

Source: California Highway Patrol; accidents recorded near the Floriston exit in Interstate 80, both eastbound and westbound

Correction (Dec. 9, 11:27 a.m.): An earlier version of our "By the numbers" fact box incorrectly listed 12 as the number of accidents for 2012, and 18 as the number of accidents for 2014. Those figures were swapped; the actual number of accidents that occurred in 2012 was 18 and the actual number of accidents that occurred in 2014 was 12.


View the data yourself

All the data for this project came from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, and can be obtained online at http://iswitrs.chp.ca.gov

The Sun analyzed this data and recorded it into our own spreadsheets, which you can view at http://bit.ly/2hdBAUU

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Fifty-seven. That’s how many traffic accidents have occurred this year alone on Interstate 80 near Floriston, both eastbound and westbound.

If that number seems high, that’s because it’s more than double the number of accidents that area saw in 2015. And, it’s more than triple the number of accidents on the same stretch of highway — which is used by thousands of commuters between Truckee and Reno on a daily basis — in 2013.

“Snow,” said California Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Liza Whitmore, when asked to comment on what’s led to the spike.

“Because it was snowy and wet,” she added. “There was very little snow from 2011 until last winter, and that impacted all kinds of variables that affect our roadway.”

To be clear, Whitmore said the department isn’t exactly sure what’s led to the increase in accidents this year, but said that snow and precipitation is worth considering.

In November, the Sierra Sun obtained information on the last five years of accident reports from the Floriston area of Interstate 80 from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.

Records show that the number of traffic accidents (involving all types of vehicles) on Interstate 80, both eastbound and westbound, near the unincorporated community of Floriston increased slightly in 2015 — and jumped dramatically in 2016.

In 2016, from Jan. 1 to Nov. 29, there were 57 accidents reported in that area (all between Jan. 1 through Oct. 31), and in 2015 there were 24.

Meanwhile, in 2014, 2013 and 2012, the annual number of accidents never reached more than 20 — the year 2012 saw 18 accidents, 2013 had 13 and 2014 had only 12.

According to the data, 17 injuries were recorded this year from the 57 crashes. Thankfully, however, over the last five years, no fatalities were recorded among all of the 124 accidents.

WET CONDITIONS A PROBABLE CAUSE

Whitmore said there’s often an increase in the number of traffic incidents when the roads are wet or icy, so it’s possible the recent increase is related to the weather.

A deeper analysis of the data shows that 68 percent of the accidents in 2016 occurred when the road conditions were wet or icy.

In 2015, 25 percent of accidents happened when the road was wet or icy. In 2014, 33 percent of accidents occurred when the road was wet or icy.

In 2013, nearly 54 percent of accidents happened when the road was slippery, and in 2012, wet or icy road conditions were present during 44 percent of accidents.

The findings may not come as much of a surprise to those commuters who spend an excess of their time on the interstate between Reno and Truckee.

According to Caltrans data, an average of 26,000 vehicles per day pass through that section of highway.

After 14 accidents occurred in October of this year — some of which were widely publicized on social media due to the extended travel delays they caused — Caltrans announced through a press release that emergency roadwork would be completed during November.

That work, which is still in progress, has consisted of alternating lane closures in both directions on the two-lane highway as crews work to groove the pavement, which will help prevent cars from sliding during winter weather conditions.

Whitmore told the Sun in an email that the project construction and lane closures are likely to continue through late December because of expected foul weather conditions in the following weeks.

She also said that the project’s cost is $1.4 million, which is being paid through by state funds allocated to Caltrans’ highway maintenance budget.