Drivers: The Cause of Dangerous Intersections in Ingham County
INGHAM COUNTY - One of the most common places for traffic accidents to occur are in or near an intersection. Intersections that experience a high volume of traffic can be dangerous for many drivers. Law enforcement officers are responding to these accident all over the county. Each city has their own problematic intersections. For example, Sergeant Leith Curtis of the Lansing Police Department said, “Martin Luther King and Holmes here in the city of Lansing last year generated the highest number of accidents for the city of Lansing.” Meanwhile in Meridian Township, “the number one crash intersection for the Township would be Grand River and Okemos Road,” said Assistant Police Chief Ken Plaga for Meridian Township.
The accident numbers vary from intersection to intersection, but law enforcement officers are seeing a common trend on what’s making these areas so dangerous. “We found that 50% of our accidents were rear-end related,” explained Sergeant Curtis. “Most of them occurred during times of dry pavement, so it wasn’t a weather factor that caused the issue it was the operator of the vehicle that caused the issue so distracted driving is a big thing right now and we feel that contributes significantly to the amount of accidents.”
Cell phones are increasingly one of the biggest factors that contribute to distracted driving. Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said, “whatever text or Facebook message you’re getting can wait till you get home. And if we can do just that one little thing I think a lot, most if not all these numbers can be reduced in 2017 and that’s always our goal.”
Impatient drivers are another cause of many intersection related accidents. Ingham County Sheriff Wriggelsworth explained, “inevitability the longer the light the more people that try to run the light because they don’t wanna sit there and wait 60, 90, 120 seconds.” Wriggelsworth went on to say that waiting that extra minute at a stop light won’t kill you, and it could save you from the consequence of an accident in the long run.
In order to try and make these intersections safer, “the Ingham County Road Department we work directly with those folks to compile numbers and try to come up with plans to reduce the number of traffic crashes,” explained Assistant Chief Plaga. Things such as new traffic lights, traffic signs, and improved roadways are some of the things the Ingham County Road Department considers in how they approach traffic safety. Ingham County Road Department Managing Director Bill Conklin said, “if an accident trend develops or the local police department or other interested citizens contact us with a particular intersection functional problem, such as an accident problem or congestion backups, signal timing issues, we get those type of concerns all the time and we address those as they come in.”
The intersection at Okemos and Jolly Road will be undergoing construction to make it safer. Right turn lanes and a new signal are all part of the upcoming project. Managing Director Conklin explained that the right turn lanes will help with the flow of traffic since majority of the the traffic in that area is right turn traffic. The project will be Federal funded, as well as funded by the Michigan Economic Development Funding. The project will begin this summer, but majority of the project is set to take place during 2018.