Over the past three years, nine of Wichita’s 20 most accident-prone intersections were on Kellogg, Kansas Department of Transportation records show,
Three of the top suburban intersections – two in Andover and one in Goddard – also were on Kellogg.
The two top spots for accidents in south-central Kansas – the Kellogg and I-235 interchange and the Kellogg and Webb Road intersection – are both targeted for major improvements in coming years. But with the completion dates for those projects more than four years away, Kellogg will likely remain the most accident-prone stretch of road in south-central Kansas for the next several years.
Wichita city engineer Gary Janzen said the city has begun property acquisition for the Webb Road project, with bids scheduled to be let late next year and construction expected to begin in 2014. By 2019, he said, the Kellogg and Webb Road interchange should be completed and work should be under way on rebuilding Kellogg and Greenwich.
Scott King, a KDOT engineer overseeing the design of the I-235 interchange, said that project is expected to proceed along a similar timetable, with bids on the first phase being accepted in 2015 and work beginning in 2016. He said that first phase, which is expected to be competed in 2018, should eliminate most of the merging problems that are caused by a large volume of traffic using tight cloverleafs that were designed and built in the 1950s.
“They’ve probably served their useful lives and then some,” he said.
No timetable has been set for the other phases of the I-235 project.
KDOT accident data shows that from 2009 through 2011, there were 14,371 accidents in the Wichita metropolitan area that investigators said involved intersections or interchanges. That’s about half of all accidents reported. The 13 accidents a day that occur in Wichita-area intersections involve an average of 26 vehicles and 38 occupants, six of whom require medical treatment.
The likelihood of having an accident is lowest on the weekends, and the odds increase with every day of the work week until Friday, which is the busiest day for accident investigators. KDOT records show that 56 percent of the intersection accidents involved side-impact collisions, and 35 percent were rear-end crashes.
Inattention and failure to yield were most common cause of intersection accidents, accounting for about half the total. Following too closely was cited in 10 percent of the accidents, while disobeying a stop sign or red light was cited in 16 percent of the crashes. Cellphones were blamed in 0.7 percent of the accidents.
Men were slightly more likely than women – 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent – to be involved in intersection accidents, the records show. But at the intersection of Meadowlark and Nelson in Derby, 71.4 percent of the drivers involved in accidents were women. At the intersection of 61st Street North and I-135 in Park City, 67.9 percent of the drivers were men.
About 5.9 percent of the intersection accidents occurred on Kellogg, nearly twice as many as any other street. The next most accident-prone streets were Central (3.5 percent of intersection accidents) Rock Road (3.0 percent), 13th Street (2.9 percent), I-135 (2.9 percent) and Harry (2.5 recent). About 1.7 percent of the accidents occurred on I-235.
Janzen pointed out that several of the Kellogg intersections are actually double intersections, with traffic lights north and south of the highway. Kellogg’s intersections with Hillside, Meridian and Seneca all contain such a traffic configuration. Kellogg’s intersection with Mid-Continent Road involves four sets of stoplights, and a wreck at any of those lights is likely to be attributed to that intersection under KDOT’s accident reporting system.
Janzen said with some intersections on the most accident-prone list – notably First and Second streets as they pass under I-135 – it may not be possible to significantly increase traffic safety by redesigning the roads. At both of those intersections, drivers running red lights were the most common causes of accidents.
The Wichita Police Department maintains a list of accident-prone intersections that closely resembles the KDOT list but doesn’t include highway interchanges, where accidents typically are investigated by the Kansas Highway Patrol.
One intersection that dropped off the Police Department’s list this year was Harry and Rock Road, which was recently rebuilt to include dual left-turn lanes in all four directions. The intersection averaged 42 accidents a year from 2009 through 2011, the Police Department’s list shows, but recorded only 24 during the first 11 months of this year.