The Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan (TIA) has released a report naming the top 10 high-crash intersections in Oakland County, which includes some lakes area sites.
Of the 10 identified, three intersections in the lakes area made the list, including two roundabouts in West Bloomfield Township. The fourth highest incidence of crashes in Oakland County last year, 66 collectively, occurred at the roundabout at West Maple and Drake roads, followed by the roundabout at Farmington and Maple roads, where 65 crashes occurred in 2011. The intersection at Highland (M-59) and Airport roads in Waterford Township is ranked eighth with 63 crashes last year.
Despite the roundabout crash statistics, the TIA fully supports the implementation of roundabouts because they reduce fatalities, injuries and traffic congestion, according to TIA Executive Director Jim Santilli.
“In a traditional four-way traffic intersection, there are 32 points of conflict in which two vehicles may collide,” he said. “Modern roundabouts have only eight conflict areas, which greatly reduces the potential for crashes.”
A study published in the Transportation Research Record reported that converting 23 test intersections throughout the U.S. from traffic signals to roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 80 percent, and reduced all crashes by 40 percent in those areas. Results were much the same for similar studies throughout the U.S. and Europe.
“One critical point is that the number of injury accidents are down; however, the number of side-swipe accidents have increased — which is a national phenomenon,” said Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) Spokesperson Craig Bryson. “A lot of national research is being done and we’re studying it locally, too.”
Bryson said that the RCOC has plans to make some significant changes at the Maple/Farmington roundabout to mitigate accidents, such as restriping the roadway.
“We intend to make the three east-west lanes into two east-west lanes and see if that has an impact,” Bryson said. “We’ve studied the issue closely and people are not driving with good lane discipline, so we’ve tried to clarify signage, lane markings to physically force drivers into proper lanes and in addition, continue to do driver education.”
Both Santilli and Bryson agree that the high incidence of accidents can be, in part, attributed to funding issues.
“It’s imperative that public officials ensure that funding for public safety and road enhancements remain a top priority,” Santilli said. “Stop cutting vital services, and start putting more law enforcement officers on the streets and increasing the funding for our roadways. Public safety and transportation are the foundation of economic prosperity, and should be the last to be cut.”
“Law enforcement has been hit hard by the budget crises and we’re not doing as much in safety improvements because we don’t have the money,” Bryson said.