Originally Published: July 27, 2014 6 a.m.
Drivers in the Prescott area, beware: When it comes to risk of collisions, the community's three major highway intersections top the list.
Statistics from the Prescott Police Department show that throughout the past year, streets intersecting with either Highway 69 or Highway 89 were significantly more crash-prone than others in the area.
Easily the most dangerous of all is the Highway 69/Prescott Lakes Parkway intersection, with a total of 33 collisions in 2013.
Not surprisingly, the high accident numbers largely coincide with those with the highest traffic volumes.
Fronting on the busy commercial area of the Prescott Gateway Mall, auto dealerships, and Walmart, the 69/Prescott Lakes Parkway intersection sees more than double the traffic of some of the other sites on the list.
At 48,596 vehicles a day, and nearly 16 million vehicles a year, the intersection comes in as the second-busiest on the list - second only to the nearby Highway 69/Gateway Boulevard intersection.
That intersection, which also provides access to the Prescott Gateway mall, sees an average of 48,835 vehicles per day, and nearly 16 million per year.
Its collision number for 2013 came in at 19, tying with another highway intersection for second place on the city's list of most dangerous. Also with 19 collisions was the Highway 89/Prescott Lakes Parkway intersection.
Of the number-one Highway 69/Prescott Lakes Parkway intersection, Prescott Police Lt. Ken Morley said, "That is one of the highest-activity intersections on a regular basis."
While noting that the 33-crash total is high, Morley said most collisions at Highway 69 and Prescott Lakes Parkway are not severe. "A lot are coming from a stop or to a stop," he said of the collisions at the busy corner.
Police records show that 22 of 33 crashes were non-injury accidents, while 11 caused injuries, Morley said. No fatalities were reported at the intersection in 2013.
"Based on a brief review of this specific intersection, the majority of the collisions were low speed and low impact," Morley said. "Speed definitely has an impact on severity."
The International City/County Management Association's (ICMA) recent public-safety analysis of the police department touched on the city's traffic enforcement, maintaining that officers should devote more resources to preventing crashes than to investigating them.
The main deterrent to crashes, Morley said, is a regular presence of police officers in the area. "That does have a direct impact," he said.
Although the police department does focus its enforcement on high-traffic areas, Morley noted that resources are limited.
Along with the presence of law enforcement, he said education about some of the main accident causes could also help to reduce crashes.
"I think distracted driving is probably the biggest thing," he said, noting that texting and talking on cell phones are among the main distractions.
Prescott Traffic Engineer Ian Mattingly said the daily traffic counts at the top crash intersections were compiled using average volumes over a 24-hour period. The annual numbers are not a straight conversion from those totals, he said, due to variations in weekday and weekend traffic.
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