Collision Corners: No easy solutions

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Identifying Savannah's most dangerous intersections can be easier than avoiding them.

Because, depending how you figure it, they keep changing.

Police accident reports indicate wrecks are most likely to occur at the city's busiest intersections -- Skidaway and DeRenne, Abercorn and Montgomery Crossroad -- because that's where the department sees the most.

"The accident information is gathered quarterly,'' said Lieutenant Gregory Mitchell, of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, "so that we can get a perspective as to as far as frequency and I guess the areas where we're having problems.''

But seeking a lower-traffic alternative could mean higher odds of an accident according to data gathered by the City of Savannah Department of Traffic Engineering.

"We look at accident rates,'' said department head Mike Weiner, "which is basically accidents at the intersection compared to the traffic volume entering the intersection.''

So, even though 37th Street has about one-fifth the amount of traffic as DeRenne, some of those less-traveled corners see almost half as many accidents, a considerably higher average.

"That 37th street corridor as a whole has been on our accident list,'' said Weiner. "And one of the biggest problems is trees and visibility.''

Heading all the way down to the Historic District introduces another whole set of issues.

"We have a lot of tourists that are not familiar with the city,'' said Weiner. "And it's a problem.''

Different solutions come from the different information.

The Police Department deploys more officers to the places high on their list as a deterrent.

But the city uses what it learns to change what it sees.

"In many situations,'' says Weiner, "that's how we have determined that traffic control at an intersection needs to be improved from a two-way stop to a four-way or if a signal has to be installed.''

The best example of improvement came at the intersection of Airways Ave. and I-95, where there were 28 accidents in 2008.

At that time, there was only a stop sign here for traffic coming off of 95. But the city installed a four-way traffic light and rubber delineators for traffic merging onto airways road. Two years later, there were zero accidents at that corner.

The police and city agree, though, that the best way around an accident starts inside the car.

"What I would recommend is to drive defensively, to be vigilant, not to drive distracted,'' said Lt. Mitchell. "Look ahead so you can see dangers and obstructions of things that are happening 100 yards ahead of you so that you can have time to stop.''

And perhaps avoid an accident.

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