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Hot Spots for Crashes Multiply

Vehicles pass through on a yellow light at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE, the site of 71 accidents in 2004, the most in the city.
Vehicles pass through on a yellow light at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE, the site of 71 accidents in 2004, the most in the city. (Photos By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)

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By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 6, 2005

The number of District intersections deemed particularly dangerous by traffic engineers nearly doubled last year, a new study shows.

The city-funded analysis found that 330 intersections had at least 10 crashes, up from 176 in 2003.

D.C. traffic engineers could not explain the spike but said it might be the result of a slight increase in the number of cars traveling certain roads. They said they will launch an initiative in coming months to install electronic sensors at each traffic light in the city to better regulate the traffic flow and improve safety.

The $40,000 study, conducted by the Michael Baker Corp., examined crashes from 2002 to 2004.

It found that high-crash intersections accounted for 30 percent of the city's 18,262 collisions last year, an increase from 15 percent in 2003.

The crash-prone locations were concentrated along busy commuter routes. Among the worst: New York Avenue.

Designated a "high-crash corridor" in the study, New York Avenue in 2004 accounted for five of the top 10 crash sites, including the most crash-prone intersection: New York Avenue at Bladensburg Road NE. That intersection was the site of 71 wrecks and 40 injuries last year.

Police officials and engineers blamed the high number of accidents on the traffic volume flowing along New York Avenue toward Maryland and into the District.

Even when engineers consider other factors, including the amount of traffic, the severity of the wrecks and their financial cost, New York at Bladensburg ranks as the worst in the city, according to a separate analysis by city engineers.

City officials estimated that crashes at the intersection cost nearly $8 million in property damage, medical fees and legal claims over a three-year period.

Motorists said they were not surprised that the intersection was so dangerous.

Jerald Katz's new Toyota Avalon was rear-ended in a three-car wreck at the intersection in May of last year. Katz and his wife weren't injured, but they had to pay $1,000 to fix the car's bumper.


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