In May 2018, the Journal Sentinel published an article online (read the full text here) detailing the twelve top crash-prone intersections in Milwaukee, dubbed “the dangerous dozen.” Using statistics (1506 crashes, 634 injuries) from a five-year study (2012-2016) conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, these infamous locations are:
- 41/Highway 45 and Capitol Drive – a three-level intersection with some improvements completed in 2017
- I-94 and Highway 164
- I-94 and Highway 83
- Greenfield Avenue and Moorland Road
- I-94 and Moorland Road
- Silver Spring Drive and Port Washington Road –Located near the Bayshore Mall, there is a high incidence of driver distraction in this area
- I-94 and Hwy F
- Bluemound Rd and Barker Rd
- Bluemound Rd and Moorland Rd/Pilgrim Pkwy
- Les Paul Pkwy and E Racine Ave
- S 108th St and W Lincoln Ave
- East Moreland Blvd and Kossow Rd
Incidentally, last year Road and Track ranked Milwaukee 19th out of 25 on the list of worst cities for driving in 2018. The findings used data based on traffic volume, safety, and the quality of our city’s infrastructure.
Wisconsin has a proud history of recognizing the importance of highway safety, specifically at intersections. In the past, our state joined forces with California, Virginia, and the Federal Highway Administration in a collaborative effort (the Infrastructure Consortium) dedicated to improving intersection safety.
Contributing Factors to Milwaukee Intersection Accidents
Interstate construction, roadway maintenance, as well as confusing road layouts can result in a driver adjusting his or her speed erratically and shifting lanes quickly. A single reckless maneuver can easily become a safety issue when approaching or navigating through an intersection. Additionally, if a distracted driver fails to react in a timely manner to changing traffic conditions, or to act responsibly, serious crashes can be expected.
Many collisions at intersections are caused by:
- Drivers attempting to turn left while trying to race the yellow light
- Impaired drivers
- Failing to scan intersections properly on approach
- Following too closely
- Improper signaling
- Misjudging the speed and distance of other vehicles
- Multiple merging lanes
- Four-way stops
- Frontage road intersections
- Confusing road layouts
- Excessive speed
While there is any number of reasons why a crash happens at a particular intersection, drivers must be aware of what behaviors can possibly put a life in danger.
Dealing with multiple lanes and high traffic volume is frustrating, and as the list of potential problems with intersection design and maintenance grows annually, roadway safety has become both a local and state priority; thankfully, many of our lawmakers and local civic groups are working together to strike a balance between safety, efficiency, and available finances.
The severity of an intersection collision primarily depends on:
- The volume of traffic
- Whether the intersection is located in an urban or rural location
- If the lanes are divided between opposing traffic
- The number of parking lot entrances and exits in close proximity to the location
- Improperly marked lanes
- Obstructed signs
- Lack of a median barrier
- Confusing signs
- Improper lane width
To increase roads and intersections safety, federal, state, and local governments need to continue working together to implement necessary changes, including:
- Reducing speed limits
- Increasing intersection visibility
- Better signage
- The impact of substance abuse
The restricted crossing U-turns that have been implemented in Wisconsin are minimizing the possibility of collisions as drivers navigate high-speed, divided highways. When constructed with dedicated left-turn and right-turn-only lanes, these intersections reduce accident potential. The benefits of this design include:
- Reduction of right-angle crashes
- The driver only needs to look at one direction of traffic at a time
- Allows for extra space for longer vehicles to store in median
- Provides additional space for longer vehicles to stand in the median
- Cost-effective when compared to an interchange or overpass
Pay Attention at Busy Intersections
We can’t always avoid the dangers on our roads, but we can be proactive. There are specific rules of the road (346.31) concerning the required position and method of turning at intersections. Safety at dangerous intersections is every driver’s responsibility:
- Stay alert and drive defensively in busy intersections
- Anticipate aggressive behavior from the other drivers
- Watch for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists
- Remain cognizant of other drivers’ blind spots
- Keep your foot on the brake while waiting to cross the intersection.
- Always use directional signals
- Keep your vehicle in good working order
- Plan ahead and listen to local traffic reports before hitting the road
Intersections are sometimes complex and confusing. The design of a roadway influences its safety and can have the ability to improve traffic flow. Raised medians, crosswalks, and bicycle lanes are instrumental in keeping motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians safer. We need to work together to support traffic safety initiatives in our community. Let’s make sure that everyone gets where they are going safely.
Smart Intersection Technology
A viable solution to intersection dangers is on the horizon. “Connected Intersections” use traffic signals that have the ability to communicate with smart cars and emergency service vehicles. The future is indeed upon us: With communication possible between sensors on the roadways, connected vehicles, and smart cars, the timing of traffic signals can be manipulated, in real-time, to meet the daily needs of a city.
According to a current project at Iowa State University Institute For Transportation: “Intersection-focused safety applications are expected to prevent an estimated 575,000 crashes and 5,100 fatalities per year.”
Until we all have smart cars that will alert us to dangers looming in an intersection before we turn the corner, remember to always be aware both of your own driving habits and those of the vehicles around you.
The Groth Law Firm Is Here to Help
If an accident at an intersection in Milwaukee has resulted in physical or financial hardship for you, contact the legal team at Groth Law Firm. When another person’s negligence leaves you physically, emotionally, or financially damaged, we are here to leverage our collective knowledge and experience to maximize recovery for you and your family. Call us at (414) 240-0707 for a free consultation.