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See which intersections in Mid-Michigan are the most dangerous

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 1:56 PM EST
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Thousands of car crashes happen every year in Michigan and about one-third of them happened at intersections in 2019.

So what makes intersections so dangerous? And what can police, engineers and drivers do to make them safer?

No matter the kind of intersection, police say it will always be dangerous.

Each year, Michigan Auto Law complies a list of the most dangerous intersections in the state, using data from crashes, injuries and fatalities to determine just how dangerous each are. The most concerning intersections in the state are near Metro Detroit.

But in Mid-Michigan, there are dozens of intersections making the top 200 most dangerous -- all seeing upwards of 45 crashes in 2019.

The intersection of Hill and Fenton roads on the border of Grand Blanc and Mundy townships is a standout in Michigan with 45 crashes reported in 2019. The intersection ranked 167th most dangerous in Michigan with 45 crashes and 14 injuries.

“It’s an intersection where there’s a bunch bunch of intersections, driveways coming in and out,” said Grand Blanc Township Police Chief Ron Wiles. “It’s a five-lane going south, north, east and west, so there is a lot of cars that go through there.”

But what makes it so dangerous? Wiles said it’s almost a daily occurrence to hear a call go out about some sort of crash at the Hill and Fenton roads intersection.

“The last five years, we’ve had 125 crashes at the intersection between Mundy Township and ourselves,” he said.

Using the Michigan Traffic Crash Facts website, over 50 police reports from 2019 detail the types of crashes at the intersections along the border of Grand Blanc and Mundy townships.

“Seventy-five percent of them are either one of two ways: Rear-end crashes or what we call an angle crash,” Wiles said.

An angle crash is a bit more dangerous than a rear-end. Wiles said it happens when someone turning from one road crosses over to the other -- in this case, from Fenton Road over to Hill Road.

In Isabella County, the intersection of Broomfield and Mission roads in Mount Pleasant saw 63 crashes in 2019, making it the most dangerous intersection in mid-Michigan. Five crashes resulted in injuries. Most were minor rear-end collisions caused by poor traffic flow at the busy intersection.

The intersection of Bay and Tittabawassee roads was Saginaw County’s most dangerous with 46 crashes, which resulted in eight injuries in 2019. The intersection is lined by dozens of businesses, including the Fashion Square Mall.

ROUNDABOUTS POSSIBLE

To improve crash-prone intersections, Rowe Professional Services Vice President Jack Wheatley is spearheading a new initiative with Genesee County, hoping roundabouts may be viable options.

“The primary analysis that we did narrowed it down to about 220 to 230 intersections and now we’re doing a second analysis,” he said. “So we’re looking at them deeper.”

Both the intersection of Hill and Fenton roads and the I-75 interchange at Corunna Road are part of the second phase, mainly due to their accident rates.

“We will look at those traffic volumes and determine if, one, is that a good candidate for a roundabout? And two, what would be the laneage of that roundabout,” Wheatley said.

The next roadblock is funding, which the Michigan Department of Transportation says is never an easy hurdle to overcome.

“If there’s a safety problem, we better be doing those well,” said MDOT engineer Trevor Block. “So we do those with every project and make those improvements as they come. But we do have limited funding for our road work and we have to prioritize as best we can.”

Over the past few years, Mid-Michigan has seen numerous roundabouts completed at intersections to replace four-way stops and traffic lights. So far, statistics have shown a decrease in crash numbers at those intersections, severity of injuries, and fatalities.

While roundabouts aren’t for everyone, Wiles said he’s all for them. After adding one to Hill and Belsay roads in Grand Blanc Township, police have seen a large reduction in crashes.

“It would take forever to get through there,” Wiles said. “Now, the roundabout keeps traffic moving and from a traffic safety standpoint it reduces the seriousness of crashes.

Wheatley said the next phase of Genesee County’s roundabout program involves examining around 20 intersections to determine design, cost and completion time to help municipalities determine if the project would be possible.

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