January 14, 2011
For years, Colorado Springs put out an annual list alerting drivers to the top 25 “worst intersections” in the city.
In a quiet about-face, police say they are finished producing their headline-grabbing analysis, citing concerns that it spurred unfounded fears about driving in some areas and led to misleading results.
Police analysts, however, will continue to track crash data to help shape traffic enforcement practices.
“Is it something that we’re watching? Yes. It’s just not something that we’re going to be publishing for the public and pushing out to the media the way we used to,” said police spokesman Sgt. Steve Noblitt.
The department will instead focus on tailoring its traffic education efforts in ways that are more “relevant,” Noblitt added.
“The idea is, if you ask us specific questions, we’ll give you specific answers.”
Plenty of no-brainers landed in the city’s end-of-the-year summaries — often north Colorado Springs intersections where weaving, speeding and running yellow lights are the norm for drivers eager to get home.
But the lists also shone a light on unexpected corners of the city.
Two years ago, the traffic analysis keyed in on the intersection of Vickers and Rangewood drives, underscoring potential threats to Martinez Elementary School students.
Colorado Springs School District 11 spokeswoman Elaine Naleski credited the list of dangerous intersections with spurring positive changes that improved safety.
Although only eight crashes were reported outside Martinez in 2008, three involved close calls with children, police said at the time.
A fourth involved a crossing guard who was hit and dragged approximately 20 feet. She walked away unscathed but dreading her next encounter with a reckless driver.
After the list’s release, the school district worked with city traffic planners to find solutions, Naleski said. The group eventually settled on widening an area parents use to drop off and pick up their children — a change that led to fewer backups, smoother traffic flow and a safer environment for children, staff and parents at Martinez.
Noblitt said the weighted formula used by police overemphasized fatalities and injuries. The result, he said, was that low-crash intersections involving a single death were elevated above crossings where drivers face a much higher likelihood of actually getting into a crash.
“The fact is, we decided that it was too misleading,” he said.
Beginning in early 2010, police decided to scrap the formula and begin their analysis by compiling a list of intersections with the highest volume of crashes.
Data from the first three quarters of 2010 shows five Interstate 25 junctions in the top 10, topped by Woodmen Road and I-25 with 59 crashes.
“We’re going to review all those accident reports, so we’re going to know where to deploy our resources,” Noblitt said.
Under the new standard, the intersection at Martinez Elementary likely wouldn’t have made the top 100.
Naleski, for one, expressed surprise at the change.
“I think the list was something that we looked at in the district. I know it was.”
Call the writer at 636-0366.
Top 10 Dangerous Intersections
1. E. Woodmen Road & I-25 59
2. I-25 & W. Cimarron St. 48
3. I-25 & W. Bijou St. 33
4. I-25 & W. Fillmore St. 32
5. E. Platte Av & N Academy Bl 31
6. E Pikes Peak Ave. & N. Academy Blvd. 29
7. Austin Bluffs Pkwy & N. Academy Blvd. 28
8. I-25 & S. Nevada Ave. 25
9. I-25 & W. Garden Of The Gods Road 24
10. N. Academy Blvd. & N. Carefree Circle 22
Source: Colorado Springs police, covers Jan. - Sept. 2010
View Dangerous intersections, 2010 in a larger map