The south Wichita interchange on the Kansas Turnpike is one of the top accident locations in the turnpike system, coming in at No. 9 in a study compiled in 2010.
Six of the top nine accident spots on the turnpike were clustered in the Lawrence area, and two were on the I-70 stretch approaching Kansas City, according to the 2010 Long-Term Needs Study compiled for the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
Part of the report focused on high-accident spots on the 236 miles of turnpike. Although several years old, the data is the latest available. The next long-term study is due this fall. That is five years ahead of schedule, but with new turnpike leadership, it made sense to have the information sooner, said Rachel Bell, turnpike marketing and communications director.
“These high accident areas are located along the more heavily traveled stretches of the Turnpike, particularly along I-70 between Topeka and Kansas City,” the report says.
The area at Mile Marker 42, including the south Wichita interchange, had 19 accidents in 2008, according to the study. Only one of them was injury-related. The K-7 interchange at the Bonner Springs exit approaching Kansas City had the most accidents with 43. One person died, and six were injured.
Also in 2008, the turnpike sections from Haysville to Andover and from Emporia to east Topeka measured above the accident rate average, the report said.
Looking at accident factors, the report says the top five “contributing accident circumstances are: 1) driver going too fast, 2) driver inattention, 3) rain, mist or drizzle, 4) wet road or 5) animal, such as striking a deer.
Accident data showed that “the overwhelming percentage of accidents result from driver error and driver inattention and are unrelated to the physical facility,” the report said. “Mitigation measures should be evaluated to address these high accident locations on a case by case basis.
“The KTA designs its facility to meet the highest safety standards,” the report says.
The 2010 turnpike study found that in an eight-year span, fatal accidents on average accounted for 0.5 percent of total accidents, that injury occurred in 22.7 percent of total accidents and that property damage represented 78.5 percent of accidents. Trucks were involved in 12.8 percent of accidents.
The report concluded: “The total and fatal accident rate on the Kansas Turnpike is very similar to that of urban 4-lane highways in the state which both have a closed median with concrete safety barrier to prevent head-on collisions.”
It said the ratio of fatal accidents to total accidents is “significantly lower on the Kansas Turnpike as compared to rural 4-lane highways in the state.”
The rates of total accidents and fatal accidents were lower in 2004-2008 compared with the rates in 2001, the report said.
Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top nine turnpike accident spots in 2008
1 – Mile Marker 224, including K-7 interchange approaching Kansas City; 43 accidents
2 – Mile Marker 192, approaching Lawrence; 24 accidents
3 – Mile Marker 194, approaching Lawrence; 23 accidents
4 – Mile Marker 222, approaching Kansas City; 22 accidents
5 – Mile Marker 197, near Lawrence and including the Lecompton interchange; 20 accidents
6 – Mile Marker 202, including west Lawrence interchange; 20 accidents
7 – Mile Marker 203, at Lawrence; 20 accidents
8 – Mile Marker 204, including the east Lawrence interchange; 20 accidents
9 – Mile Marker 42, including south Wichita interchange; 19 accidents
Source: Kansas Turnpike Authority