It’s a fear anyone has; being on the road and getting in a crash with someone driving under the influence.
In an NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters exclusive, Chief Investigative Reporter Len Besthoff examined thousands of wrecks across the state and found some of the areas where you’re more likely to encounter a drunk driver.
Shelly Martinez was in a truck hit by a drunk driver, on Route 2 at the Preston/Norwich town line.
“I remember vividly tossing, tossing, tossing,” Martinez said. "And when I felt my neck snap, I knew I was gonna die”.
Martinez survived, and now six years later, she has rods in her neck and takes multiple medications so she can lead a productive life.
“I am now put together with wires and screws, and it also hurt both my knees. Both my knees had to be replaced eventually”
But what if you could know ahead of time where some of the state’s “DUI hotspots” were, so you could avoid them?
The Troubleshooters drilled down into crash data from the Department of Transportation and found in a three year period from 2010 to 2012, there were almost 5,000 DUI-related crashes in the state. The data revealed clusters of DUI-related crashes in certain areas.
There are busier areas where you might expect a lot of DUI crashes, such as downtown New Haven.
We found four hotspots: a stretch of I-91 from exits 3 through 6, Chapel Street near Wooster Square, a multi-block area in and around the New Haven Green and the area near the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Sherman Parkway, totaling more than four dozen DUI related crashes in a three year period.
“What the clusters show me is there are certainly areas in Connecticut that are more worrisome than others,” said Janice Heggie-Margolis, the Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “One would think that perhaps there were certainly areas where there might be more crashes and more arrests and more fatalities, but until you really look at the paperwork you couldn’t believe the different areas where this might be.”
The Greater Hartford area has its share of DUI crash hotspots as well from 2010 to 2012.
In Berlin, there were nine crashes in that three-year span at the intersection of Route 9, Route 372 and the Berlin Turnpike.
There were also nine DUI-related crashes at the Airport Road exit off I-91 in Hartford.
In Enfield, more than two dozen collisions involving drivers under the influence were reported in the area around exits 47 and 48 on I-91.
Sgt. Mark Squires runs the Enfield Police Department Traffic Division, and says his unit conducts a number of patrols and DUI checkpoints in that specific area.
“You have a lot of traffic coming in and off the highway. You also have some the commercial districts here with a lot of driveways, private drives, entering on to Route 220 and Route 190. So it does make it challenging for traffic,” Squires said.
Norwich stood out with five clusters totaling almost five dozen DUI crashes.
The data shows one cluster near exit 82 on I-395 and another near Backus Hospital.
Three more clusters are apparent in downtown Norwich, including the intersection of Route 2, Route 32 and Route 82. North Main Street just east of downtown and Route 2 leading into the city from Preston also had a higher number of drunk driving accidents.
In New London, there were more than a half-dozen DUI-related crashes near Connecticut College and Coast Guard Academy. Interstate 95 near exits 83 and 84 saw 15 drunk driving accidents between 2010 and 2012, plus a cluster of 10 DUI-related wrecks downtown and another dozen just south of downtown.