Group unveils tentative list of crash-prone intersections

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published November 30, 2015

 Van Dyke Avenue at 18 1/2 Mile Road has the most crashes in Macomb County, with 121 reported so far in 2015.

Van Dyke Avenue at 18 1/2 Mile Road has the most crashes in Macomb County, with 121 reported so far in 2015.

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Wish lists are on many minds this season, and a common-but-unstated desire among drivers is to avoid getting into a traffic accident.

A list compiled by the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan has tentatively revealed some local intersections with the highest number of vehicle crashes in 2015 thus far. 

Jim Santilli, the traffic association’s executive director, said this year’s figures are roughly complete through the end of October, but they merely reflect crash data that Michigan State Police has received, and some crashes are still being investigated. 

“That list is subject to change,” Santilli said. “No. 1 can go down to No. 10. It can change drastically.”

In an email, Santilli listed some of the intersections in Macomb and Oakland counties with the highest number of vehicle crashes so far in 2015. A crash was tabulated if it happened within 200 feet of the intersection, he said.

In Macomb County, Van Dyke Avenue at 18 1/2 Mile Road in Sterling Heights had 121 total reported crashes, Schoenherr Road at 23 Mile Road in Shelby Township had 64, Utica Road at Groesbeck Highway in Fraser had 54, Schoenherr Road at 14 Mile Road in Sterling Heights had 52, and Gratiot Avenue at 21 Mile Road in Chesterfield Township had 51. Of those, the Chesterfield intersection had one reported fatality in 2015, according to the TIA. 

In Oakland County, the M-5 highway at Pontiac Trail in Commerce Township had 116 crashes, West 12 Mile Road at Telegraph Road in Southfield had 96, West Maple Road at Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield had 68, Farmington Road at West Maple Road in West Bloomfield had 61, and East Big Beaver Road at Rochester Road in Troy had 61. Of those, the Maple-Orchard Lake intersection had one fatality this year, according to the TIA.

According to Sgt. Dave Sage, from the West Bloomfield Police Department, the Maple-Orchard Lake intersection is the busiest one in the township.

“(That) would be essentially what we call our downtown,” he said. “You’ve got everybody coming east and west across the county and north and south.”

Sage said the Farmington-Maple intersection is a traffic circle, and he said it’s a misconception that traffic circles significantly reduce the total number of accidents. He said they are designed to keep traffic flowing at a consistent rate — though they also encourage cars to move more slowly. 

 “Now if you get in an accident, its may be a sideswipe at 10 or 15 mph,” he added. “They’re really designed to keep down those injury accidents.”

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Dave Smith confirmed that the Van Dyke-18 1/2 Mile intersection is a common crash site, adding that it features a roundabout. 

“There is a large amount of traffic that goes through the roundabout,” Smith explained.

Santilli said roundabouts have been known to “greatly enhance safety and mobility” because they “eliminate the potential for right-angle and head-on-left-turn crashes.” But he said crashes often come down to driver behavior, so people need to pay attention while behind the wheel. 

“Also, I would like to emphasize that an intersection with a high number of crashes doesn’t necessarily mean it is ‘dangerous,’” he said. “Generally, we look at other factors such as the average daily traffic (ADT) traveling through the intersection and the severity of the crashes.”

Learn more about the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan by visiting www.tiami.us.

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