Agencies Chart Most Dangerous Spots For Drivers In Tulsa

Wednesday, October 30th 2013, 6:10 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Seventy-six people died in car wrecks on Tulsa-area streets and highways last year, and there are more than a thousand crashes every month.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) have taken the when and where part of accidents and are matching it up with why, with an eye toward seeing what drivers are doing and whether a better road design could improve safety.

It's not uncommon for accidents to happen in wet weather or at busy intersections - that's expected - so the next frontier of traffic safety planning is focusing on accidents in the unexpected places, which as it turns out, are where the most dangerous crashes happen.

INCOG, the regional planning authority for the Tulsa area, is studying crashes to match when and where they happen with why.

The map of the Tulsa metro area, seen to the right of this story, shows the concentrations of all 13,000 collisions last year. The larger, darker circles are the worst spots. The 76 fatalities are marked in red.

INCOG found the most serious injuries and most fatalities on streets between intersections, what engineers call "mid-block".

Those are much more fatal than intersection crashes," said Viplava Putta, INCOG Traffic Manager. "Intersection crashes--at least you're vigilant, you're watching, you're slower, but mid-block crashes are producing more fatalities.

INCOG wants a task force to drill down into their data to see if they can improve safety at places with the most crashes. Their study finds crashes are more common at places designed for one kind of traffic. That's changed over the years.

"A lot of times, traffic changes, people change, they might make more left turns at a spot where you didn't think they would before," Putta said.

The Tulsa metro intersection with the most crashes was 71st Street and 145th East Ave. There were 69 wrecks there last year and 23 people injured.

Better design can't stop all the accidents, but INCOG believes they can make an impact with this new data-driven look at safety.

One theme of all this is that distracted driving is a huge issue, because so many accidents happen when people don't notice what's around them.

Click here to see a list of the intersections with the most crashes. The intersection of 81st and Memorial was second on the list.