RICHMOND (WRIC)—Where in the City of Richmond are you most likely to crash? Anchor/Investigative Reporter Kerri O'Brien has uncovered the city's most dangerous intersections, some you probably drive through every day.
Cars, school buses, pedestrians, and both on and off ramps to I-95—all come together at North Belvidere and West Leigh streets, making the intersection the top traffic trouble spot in the city.
In 2013, the busy intersection was the site of 17 car accidents. Just four blocks away and next on the list of dangerous intersections in Richmond is North Belvidere and West Broad streets, with 14 collisions last year. It's consistently a problem spot; over the years we've seen an SUV slam into an ambulance, and cyclists have told ABC 8 News they often fear for their lives as they pedal through the intersection.
"I ride my bike through here sometimes, and I feel like, you know, maybe I'm gonna get hit by a car or something," said cyclist Hunter McCarty.
Both the North Belvidere Street/West Leigh Street and North Belvidere Street/West Broad Street intersections are among the city's busiest.
Sharon North, the public information manager of Richmond's Department of Public Works, says the crash numbers at these two intersections are on the department's radar. Richmond Police say they are currently studying the intersection of North Belvidere and West Leigh streets to see what adjustments can be made there.
"That area is right at downtown, it's right at VCU," North said. "There is a tremendous volume of traffic going through there."
Tied for second on the list of hazardous intersections is Commerce Road and Hull Street, also with 14 crashes in 2013. Rounding out the list with 12 accidents each are North Second and East Broad streets, North Belvidere and West Clay streets, West Broad and North Laurel streets, and West Broad Street and Malvern Avenue.
The intersections of West Broad Street/North Laurel Street and West Broad Street/Malvern Avenue stand out. The number of crashes at West Broad and North Laurel streets tripled in 2013, up four from the year before. The number of collisions at West Broad Street and Malvern Avenue jumped from five in 2012 to a dozen in 2013. ABC 8 News shared these findings with the city's Department of Public Works.
"Any time we see an uptick of that nature in that amount of time at … two intersections, certainly it gets our attention," North said.
City engineers say they'll conduct a road safety assessment to see what's driving this spike in accidents.
Meanwhile, notably off the list of dangerous intersections this year is that at Elkhardt and Hull Street roads. This intersection lead the city in crashes in 2012, with 16 accidents. In February 2013, red light cameras went up and collisions went down—to just seven. Janet Brooking, the executive director of DRIVE SMART Virginia, a nonprofit centered on driving safety, says this evidence seems to suggest that the cameras are improving safety.
"There's signage there, so I think people are seeing the signage, and of course they've heard about the cameras as well, and it's just a deterrent," Brooking said.
Red light cameras remain controversial in the Commonwealth; there's a bill in the General Assembly to ban them, as some studies have shown that red light cameras can actually lead to an increase in fender benders. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety is testifying in support of the cameras on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
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