Flint, MI — For Tuffy’s store manager Jason Grissom, working on the corner of Dort Highway and Lapeer Road is like being next to a raceway, he said.
“There’s a lot of speeding, a lot of running those lights. I mean, you put them two together, it’s not good,” he said.
Grissom said most of the accidents at the intersection tend to happen in the late afternoon or evenings, at the end of the workday.
The top two intersections with the most crashes in Flint are Lapeer Road and South Dort Highway, as well as East Court Street and South Dort Highway.
According to data from Michigan State Police, some intersections, like Dort and Lapeer, in Flint have had more than 100 traffic crashes from 2017 to 2021.
Flint Police Department’s Public Information Officer Tyrone Booth said they do respond to a number of crashes at these intersections.
He said it makes sense that these would be the top two intersections. There are a lot of traffic signals and lots of businesses on Dort Highway specifically, making it a well-traveled road, Booth said.
“Any roadway that has 300 cars that pass any particular point in an hour — it stands to reason that there will be more traffic crashes on that roadway,” he said.
Out of the top 10 intersections with the most crashes from 2017 to 2021, four of them are intersections with Dort Highway: Lapeer Road, East Court Street, Lippincott Boulevard and Davison Road.
Lapeer Road and South Dort Highway is also where the most crashes involving injury have occurred. From 2017 to 2021, 31 crashes occurred at that intersection resulted in an injury and one crash resulted in a death.
City Engineer Mark Adas said one possibility the city is looking at for intersections in the city is new traffic light configurations that are easier for people to see.
The old way was to have a diagonal set up of the lights, so there were fewer traffic lights at an intersection. Now, Adas said they are trying to have multiple traffic lights set up for each side of an intersection.
Adas also said that if there were plans to rebuild an intersection, he would consider making a roundabout at a dangerous intersection.
He said roundabouts don’t eliminate the possibility of a crash but they can make it less severe.
“There’ll be an increase in, like, sideswipes,” he said. “Usually very seldom is there injuries or deaths involved with roundabouts. And after the first year crashes go down tremendously.”
Adas said he doesn’t know if there is room for roundabouts at many city intersections, but he is currently researching and looking for funding to see if a roundabout could be a possibility at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Saginaw Street. This intersection was not included as one of the top 20 intersections with the most crashes, injury crashes or fatal crashes with MSP data.
He said a roundabout there would be helpful so pedestrians could cross Saginaw Street more safely to access the planned new state park along the Flint River.
However, Adas also said he doesn’t know if anyone with the city has looked at crash data.
“I don’t have enough time in the day to look at every intersection,” he said.
Adas also said that while the city can’t stop people from running red lights, adding more lights to an intersection might help increase reaction time.
Jocelyn Garza, a communications representative with the Michigan Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over all of the Dort Highway intersections, wrote in an email that there are no safety projects for the aforementioned intersections.
She wrote that the intersections with Court Street and Robert T Longway have been “modernized,” meaning that they have new poles, sign heads and are modified to improve sight distance for drivers approaching the traffic signal. The Lapeer and South Dort Highway intersection is expected to be given the same modifications in 2028.
“Crashes at intersections are related to driver error, so beyond the improvements that have already been made, there aren’t additional changes that can be made,” she wrote.
Improving driver behavior
Booth said many crashes in Flint come from distracted drivers.
He said he sees a lot of people involved in crashes who were texting while driving, being distracted by something on the radio or dropping a cell phone and moving to pick it up. Sometimes, people get in crashes when they try to drive through a changing light but there’s not actually enough time before the light changes.
When it comes to changing driver behavior, he said citations make a difference.
“Typically people drive differently if they’ve received some citations where financially they have to be responsible for their actions,” he said.
Flint Beat asked Booth how many traffic citations have been issued in the last five years and the information was not immediately available.
Adas agreed with this sentiment, saying there’s only so much that the police department can do but it would be good if they were able to do more.
“It’d be nice if we had more police being able to write tickets,” he said.
Booth agreed that police presence makes a difference, but he said that’s something the Flint Police Department does well.
“We have very aggressive enforcement that takes place throughout the City of Flint regularly,” he said.