Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rural intersections in Wisconsin deadlier than busy ones in urban areas, newspaper study finds

Intersections in northeastern Wisconsin were deadlier "than more congested urban intersections in recent years," Karen Lincoln Michel and Ben Jones report for Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers after studying state records for a 10-county area and the rest of the state from 1994 through 2005. About 80 percent of the 422 crashes at intersections were on roads the state classifies as rural. "Statewide, 70 percent of all fatal crashes at intersections occurred on rural roads," Lincoln and Jones report.

Two reasons seem to be two kinds of speed: faster driving in rural areas, and fast suburban growth. "The speed at which traditionally rural areas are transitioning to far-flung suburbs, boosting travel pressure on narrow country roads, is outpacing government’s ability to make upgrades," they write. "Although the majority of deadly crashes happen on local roads, they get a minority of the federal funds aimed at preventing deaths."

The story, which points out several problem intersections, can be done by any reporter in any state, using data collected by state transportation agencies and the U.S. Department of Transportation. (Read more)

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