The Danger of Intersections


Driving is one of the most dangerous things that people can do.

When you are out on the roads, one of the most dangerous places to drive is through an intersection.

Last year, 20 people were killed in car crashes in St. Joseph County, one of the highest in the state.

Ironwood Drive and Mishawaka Avenue is one of the city’s most dangerous intersections, as shown by the crash that occurred Monday evening.

Carl Littrell, an engineer with the city of South Bend, said, “Intersections are dangerous inherently because traffic conflicts with each other. And when you have high volumes, you have that many more conflicts."

The corner of Ironwood Drive and Ireland Road is another of the most frequent spots for accidents in the city.

The latest data available is from 2004, but there were 32 accidents in that intersection that year, 11 of them resulting in injuries and 12 of them with fatalities.

Littrell blames the volume of traffic, explaining that "at an intersection, there are 64 potential points of conflict."

He continued by saying, “If you have a car coming through and a car turning left, that's one point of conflict. [There are] 64 possibilities of how your car can come in contact with another, and that makes one solution - a roundabout."

Littrell explained that roundabouts only have eight points of conflict, as opposed to the 64 in a normal intersection.

Just a few minutes up the road and is the intersection of Ironwood Drive and South Bend Avenue, where 43 accidents have happened.

Mary Jane Bukowski frequently drives through the area, and attempts to avoid the intersection.

“It's an intersection you need to stay away from because there are a lot of accidents. You've got to be very careful out here," said Bukowski.

Bukowski continued by saying that she takes “any way to stay away from here because I've heard, I've heard there's been a lot of accidents here, so I avoid it."

Laverene Whart, on the other hand, cannot avoid it because she works in a plaza right off the intersection.

Whart said, "It's very dangerous going out onto the street because you have traffic coming from so many directions all at one time."

Laverene just has to look out her window to realize it is a dangerous intersection, and says that she has seen accidents occur.

“I would say, probably, at least every month. And sometimes every week you see a close call," explained Whart.

She continued by saying, “It’s just unusual the way people drive, and with so very little regard. Everybody is in such a big hurry.”

But of all the accidents and close-calls Whart has seen, one in particular changed the way she tackles the road, an accident that changed her life.

Her husband was killed in an automobile accident.

Stay with Newscenter 16 for this developing investigation into the dangerous intersections in the area, and what is being done to help keep you safe.


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