LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — There were slightly fewer crashes in Lincoln last year than in 2000 despite a nearly 25 percent growth in the city's population during that time, which officials say may be due to improvements in car safety and infrastructure, and changes in how crashes are reported.

There were almost 9,000 crashes reported in the city last year, which was slightly fewer than the more than 9,050 crashes reported in 2000, the Lincoln Journal Star reported . Meanwhile, Lincoln's population grew by nearly a quarter during that time, putting more drivers out on the roads.

Crashes have also been decreasing statewide, dropping 27 percent from 2000 to 2016.

A change to the damage threshold for reporting wrecks to authorities has contributed to the drop in crash numbers, said Fred Zwonechek, a Nebraska Highway Safety administrator. The state raised the threshold for reporting crashes involving only property damage from $500 to $1,000 in 2004.

Infrastructure changes and safety improvements in the automotive industry have also contributed to the decline in crashes, Zwonechek said. Engineers have changed how they design roads and cities have altered traffic signals to better direct drivers.

Automakers have also added safety features such as anti-lock braking, which prevents uncontrolled skidding, said Kevin Gilbert of Economy and Performance Auto Services.

"The cars really help you a lot now," Gilbert said.

City officials hope to learn more about the decrease in crashes when a routine traffic study is released next month. The study will analyze crash data for the past five years and identify problem intersections and street segments. The city would use the findings to develop countermeasures to further reduce crashes.

The city's crash numbers peaked in 2007, with more than 9,700 crashes, and saw its lowest point in 2012, with just over reported 8,000 crashes.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com