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Recommendations from high-crash intersection study coming soon

First traffic crash audits nearly finished

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Public works officials on Wednesday said they could present their first findings from a new traffic safety effort as early as July 16.

Natalie van Dongen, director of policy and planning for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, said crash investigators have finished reviewing three years’ worth of crashes at the intersection of Kessler and Binford boulevards and are nearly finished with the intersection of 79th Street and Michigan Road. She said investigators are reviewing all of the circumstances surrounding each crash to identify patterns they can address. Factors include time of day and weather conditions, among others.

“It’s important to review the areas where those crashes are happening at a high rate so that we can look at the intersection or the area as a whole and make holistic recommendations to improve safety,” van Dongen said.

The Indianapolis City-County Council in January directed DPW to begin reviewing all crashes that result in incapacitating injuries, defined as injuries that prevent a victim from walking away from a crash, as well as fatalities. Van Dongen said crashes that cause serious injuries happen 17 times as frequently as fatal crashes, so they provide a much larger sample to work with. Over the past three years, the intersection of 79th and Michigan saw 174 crashes, 20 of which led to serious injuries. The intersection of Binford and Kessler had 95 crashes, 11 of them with serious injuries.

Van Dongen said the city’s Fatal Crash Review Team will look at both short and long-term solutions. When asked if solutions might include roundabouts, she replied different traffic calming measures might be on the table, as well as improved crosswalks or lighting, depending on the patterns investigators find. She said the team will discuss its findings for the two intersections it has reviewed so far at its July 16 meeting. Once that happens, she said DPW can begin working on the team’s recommendations immediately.

The Fatal Crash Review Team will review six intersections each year. Van Dongen said the team has not yet chosen the other four for this year.