For Jerry Erickson, the owner of Coach and Four Barbershop, looking out the window to see a fender bender between haircuts has become somewhat of a weekly routine during the 34 years he’s been in business.
According to city traffic data, Erickson’s location near the corner of Hill Street and State Street has the 15th highest crash rate of the nearly 1,200 intersections in Ann Arbor.
“I saw a kid get hit on his bicycle yesterday, as a matter of fact,” Erickson said Thursday. “And we’ve definitely had our fair share down here over the years.”
Though Erickson said the police didn’t respond to that particular incident, from 2003 to 2007, 91 reported traffic accidents took place at the corner of Hill Street and Street Street, with 21 in 2007 alone — and that high number isn’t exactly unique to that location.
Some of the most traveled streets and intersections around campus also happen to be some of the most dangerous in the city.
For Les Sipowski, Ann Arbor’s senior project manager, one telltale sign that a particular intersection will tend to rack up more accidents than others is traffic flow.
Further from campus for example, Sipowski said the intersection between Washtenaw Avenue and Huron Parkway has been the longstanding No. 1 location for traffic accidents in Ann Arbor. He said the spot’s reputation largely has to do with the fact that those two streets are some of the most traveled in the entire city.
According to Sipowski, more than 40,000 vehicles travel through that specific location every day – more than any other intersection in Ann Arbor.
Of the 2,898 crashes that took place in the city last year, just two resulted in fatalities and nearly 40 percent were classified as rear-end accidents. Sipowski said the most challenging aspect of these statistics is uncovering accident patterns at specific intersections.
“We usually look to see if a new intersection rose to the top and if that’s the case, then we do a more detailed study to understand what kind of crashes are prevalent,” Sipowski said. “And if we do see a pattern of crashes, then we try to see what we can do to fix it.”
Some of the most common solutions, according to Sipowski, include installing new traffic lights, posting larger street signs and increasing the duration of yellow lights at existing locations.
Though Rich Magner isn’t a traffic engineer, the Blimpie Burger owner said the biggest problem he has noticed at his location near the corner of Packard Street and South Division Street has less to do with signs and lights and more to do with people driving too fast and ending up going the wrong way down one-way streets.
“Usually it’s just fender benders when people come out into the intersection because they don’t know that they’re going against the light,” Magner said.
Last year that particular location saw just five car accidents-the fewest since 2003.
Despite the decline, South Division Street and Packard Street still ranked 80th on the high-crash intersection list for the entire city.
And just last week, Magner said one of his own delivery drivers got in an accident at that exact location.