Sebastopol again ranks near the top in the state for fatal/injury collisions among cities of comparable size, according to the latest figures from the state Office of Traffic Safety.

For 2009, Sebastopol ranked second out of 70 cities of 2,500 to 10,000 people with 67 fatal/injury collisions. Sonora, near Yosemite, ranked No. 1. In 2008, Sebastopol ranked fourth with 54 such collisions.

The high rankings come as no surprise to Sebastopol Police Lt. James Conner.

He explained that with Highways 12 and 116 running through Sebastopol, the resulting traffic is unusually high for a small city and most of the city’s collisions occur along those two roads.

While the city has a population of about 7,800, the number of cars and trucks passing through the intersections of Highways 12 and 116 in downtown Sebastopol is 35,000 a day, he said.

“We have a deceptively large traffic populations,” Conner said.

He noted that as traffic increases so do the chances of collisions.

Other North Coast cities also fell in the same population group as Sebastopol but ranked lower in the OTS data:

–Cloverdale was 41st with 18 fatal/injury collisions

–Cotati was 6th with 43.

–Fort Bragg was 13th with 28.

–Lakeport was 59th with 5.

–Willits was 65th with 2.

Of Sebastopol’s 67 collisions in 2009, one was fatal, involving a motorcyclist.

Sebastopol also ranked second in the state for DUI arrests in 2009 among comparable cities, with 230 arrests, which would equal nearly 20 percent of the registered drivers in the city, the OTS data showed. But again, Conner said, those numbers are deceptive because the high number of arrests result from the city’s high traffic flow and many of those arrested live out of town.

Conner said Sebastopol police have responded to the high collision ranking by seeking state grants to beef up traffic enforcement. In 2004, he said, the city received $250,000 to spend over three years to hire and equip a traffic officer. In 2009, the city received a $29,000 grant to launch an anti-DUI campaign.

With tight city budgets, he said, grants are a key way for police to pay for extra traffic enforcement.

For the region’s biggest city, Santa Rosa ranked 16th out of 56 similar-sized cities in 2009 with 824 people killed or injured, according to the OTS data. In 2008, the city ranked 18th with 907 deaths or injuries.

Among other local cities in 2009:

–Clearlake ranked 56th out of 102 similar-sized cities with 37 fatal/injury collisions.

–Healdsburg ranked 63rd out of 102 with 28 fatal/injury collisions.

–Petaluma ranked 32nd out of 104 with 265 fatal or injury collisions.

–Rohnert Park ranked 68th out of 98 with 92 fatal/injury collisions.

–Sonoma ranked 22nd out of 102 with 41 fatal/injury collisions.

–Ukiah ranked 26th out of 102 with 60 fatal/injury collisions.

–Windsor ranked 85th out of 98 with 43 fatal/injury collisions.

To see other collision data for the large, local cities, check out the OTS website by CLICKING HERE.

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