Boulevard, 51 intersection tops in wrecks

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Drivers and passengers are vulnerable to a number of hazards atany time on the roadways, but a few areas seem to pose greater riskfactors, according to authorities.

County and city officials agree there are certain areasconsidered “hot spots” for accidents and close calls, with theHighway 51-Brookway Boulevard intersection topping the list inrecent years.

“I really feel that the new light system put up is the biggestreason for that intersection being so dangerous,” said BrookhavenPolice Chief Pap Henderson.

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Henderson said city police officers work at least one accidentat the intersection every two weeks and sometimes more often.

Accident reports attribute driver confusion about the lightsystem as a common cause for accidents at the intersection.

“Some people don’t know they can turn (on a solid green light),and it’s very confusing to them,” said Henderson. It can also bedifficult to see oncoming traffic from the turn lanes at theintersection, which is also a problem, he said.

Drivers at the intersection are often seen stopping when thegreen arrows turn to solid green lights, despite signs postedletting them know they can turn but must yield to oncomingtraffic.

Another city intersection that often confuses drivers is atMinnesota Street and South First Street, the second most accidentprone area.

“We have a lot there, especially when you have people coming infrom out of town. They just shoot right through that intersectionwithout stopping,” said Henderson about the four-way stop. “Peopleneed to watch for signs that let them know they are approaching anintersection.”

Lincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte agrees that drivers not”paying attention” to stop signs and other warning devices is amajor cause for accidents.

Some of the main areas where drivers ignore signs and causeaccidents are the intersections of Highways 51 and 550, 51 and 84,and 583 and 84. Deputies have also noted in accident reports thatrunning stop signs is often the cause of serious collisions,sometimes deadly, at the intersections of Jackson-Liberty Drive andHighway 84, and East Lincoln Road and Highway 84.

“We’ve looked at it and looked at it,” said Boyte. “Some peoplepull up there and don’t even see the stop signs, as big as theyare.”

Poor visibility caused by blind spots is another reason foraccidents at some of the most dangerous intersections in both thecounty and city.

One intersection being looked at by authorities is at SpruceStreet and Main Street, where nearby hills often make it hard fordrivers to make good judgments about pulling out at the two-waystop, said Henderson.

Blind spots and drivers’ vision being hindered by the sun areother big reasons for accidents at intersections in the area, saidBoyte.

Drivers should make sure other vehicles are stopping beforeproceeding into an intersection, using defensive driving skills atall times even on familiar roadways, officials said.

“Driving an automobile is a big responsibility,” said Boyte.

Authorities also warn drivers to use extra caution when in areasof high traffic and congestion, such as Brookway Boulevard, whichhas the most accidents in the city and county.

Many accidents on the boulevard are caused by drivers lookingaway from the road, pulling out in front of other vehicles, ormaking unreasonable maneuvers after becoming “frustrated with thehigh volume of traffic,” Henderson said.

“People are just going to have to be patient and pay attention,”he said.

Drivers can also help prevent serious injuries in accidents bywearing their seat belts and driving within the speed limits, saidauthorities.

“Speed is the cause of most of the wrecks we have on oursecondary roads in the county,” said Boyte. “People need to slowdown, especially in the rain. A good safe rule of thumb is to drive15 miles per hour less when it’s raining.”