Intersection Accidents

At intersections of busy roadways, drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists face a higher risk of being involved in a crash. And some intersections in Philadelphia are especially dangerous for pedestrians.

According to an analysis by PlanPhilly and software company Azavea, of the top 25 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians, nine are along Broad Street. The intersection of Broad and Olney was the most dangerous – between 2008 and 2013, vehicles struck 20 pedestrians.

PlanPhilly says foot traffic volume is high near the Broad Street Line subway stops, so the rate of crashes (as a percentage of total pedestrians) may appear to be low along Broad Street. But that doesn’t mean serious and fatal pedestrian crash injuries are acceptable.

The analysis revealed that an average of 1,700 pedestrians per year are struck by vehicles in Philadelphia. Of the pedestrians struck between 2008 and 2013, 195 died from their crash injuries. To some extent, poor judgment or driver error contributes to these crashes. Roadway design may ultimately be the single most important factor in intersection crashes.

If you’ve suffered an injury in an intersection crash, you may be able to collect compensation. Request your free consultation with one of the personal injury attorneys at Wapner Newman by calling 1-800-LAW-6600.

Flawed Designs

Engineer Charles Marohn, the president and founder of the non-profit organization Strong Towns, wrote a blog post in 2013 about the roadway designs he considers especially dangerous. He calls them “stroads” – a hybrid of a street and a road that’s as inefficient as it is hazardous.

While the words “road” and “street” are often used interchangeably in informal conversation, they have distinct meanings:

  • Streets have commercial or residential buildings on both sides.
  • Roads are built to move cars between two points, so they have multiple, wide lanes and, usually, higher speed limits.

Marohn says when engineers try to combine roads and streets, they lose the efficiency of roads, due to lower speed limits and stoplights, and they compromise the pedestrian-friendly environment of streets.

Cottman and Bustleton avenues are examples of street-road hybrids, and their intersection near Roosevelt Mall was the site of three pedestrian fatalities in 2013, according to PlanPhilly.

Other factors that may increase the risk of an intersection crash – especially when combined – include:

  • Poor signage
  • No crosswalks
  • No pedestrian crossing signals
  • Brief pedestrian crossing signals that don’t allow enough time for crossing
  • Inattentive or aggressive driving
  • Poor lighting
  • Weather conditions.

Vision Zero: Reducing Traffic Deaths

In Sweden, a campaign called Vision Zero has caused traffic deaths to fall dramatically, even as the population increases. The basic principle of Vision Zero is that human beings make mistakes, and city roads and traffic patterns can be constructed or altered to prevent mistakes, or to protect people when a mistake happens. Vision Zero has three primary components: enforcement, education, and engineering.

Improvements shown to reduce crashes include bike lanes that are protected by barriers or parking rows and “islands” in the middle of broad streets or large intersections, so pedestrians have a safe place to stop.

New York City implemented its own Vision Zero plan; and in January 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that in 2016, the city had fewer traffic fatalities than ever before. Some of the Vision Zero projects included:

  • 18.5 miles of protected bike lines
  • 405 speed bumps
  • A redesign of Queens Boulevard that eliminated pedestrian fatalities in the years 2015 and 2016
  • A combined public awareness and enforcement campaign regarding pedestrian safety at night time
  • Pedestrian “head starts” in which pedestrian crossing signals give walkers a three- to seven-second head start before cars traveling in the same direction get a green light.

Several other U.S. cities have rolled out Vision Zero plans in recent years. And in November 2016, Mayor Jim Kenney signed an order creating the Office of Complete Streets and a Vision Zero Task Force. The task force’s job is to come up with a plan that will eliminate Philadelphia traffic fatalities by the year 2030.

Help for Accident Victims

Philadelphia’s commitment to creating safer streets is promising, but changes won’t happen overnight. Roadway improvements require careful planning, along with significant funding, before construction can even begin. In the meantime, drivers can do their part to reduce intersection crashes by avoiding unsafe behaviors.

If you’ve been hurt in an intersection crash, don’t wait to ask for help. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Wapner Newman offer free, no-obligation consultations; and if you have a viable case, we work on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing up front for services.

Contact us today using our online form, or call us at 1-800-LAW-6600.