Tulsa’s Treacherous Traffic: How to Stay Safe in Our Most Dangerous Intersections
When we’re on the road, we’re required to obey the law and make quick, informed decisions. In spite of all our experience and knowledge, car accidents are bound to happen from time to time. But in Tulsa, those accidents overwhelmingly occur in specific areas: namely, in our intersections. Check out our infographic of the most dangerous intersections and how to avoid car accidents in Tulsa.
These Tulsa car accidents can be partially attributed to sheer volume of traffic. Last year, there were 1,647 accidents that occurred at the site of Tulsa’s 25 most dangerous intersections. Of those 25, the top five dangerous intersections are located on 71st Street. As one of Tulsa’s busiest roads, it stands to reason that the more congested a roadway or intersection is, the greater the chance of an accident.
That’s why accidents are more likely to happen on highways, too. In Tulsa, Highway 169 is full of trouble spots, especially from 31st to 91st streets. In fact, more than 50 accidents took place at those junctions last year alone.
On and off ramps also present opportunities for accidents. For Tulsa residents, the area where Broken Arrow Expressway crosses Memorial — right between the on and off ramps — is highly treacherous. Accidents there are frequent, as is evidenced by the 121 crashes that occurred last year.
But of all the dangerous intersections in the Tulsa area, there’s one that’s especially worrisome: 71st and Mingo.
Due to increasing and converging traffic from the mall, hospital, and Union High School, 71st and Mingo can be an especially sticky intersection. Every day or two, there’s a substantial accident at that location.
Traffic on Mingo is frequently bumper-to-bumper. This issue stems from the fact that there are substantial commercial and residential offerings all located in the same general vicinity. Many times, drivers have to wait 20 minutes to turn into their neighborhood. Some have reported seeing cars stop in the middle of the intersection when the light turns red. Drivers often dart out into oncoming traffic — perhaps because they are fed up with waiting.
All in all, police handled 94 accidents at 71st and Mingo last year. It’s gotten so bad that the city of Tulsa has made the intersection a top priority as part of their Vision plan road project. Currently, Mingo Road has only two lanes, but the city plans to widen Mingo Road from 71st to 81st streets to help alleviate the heavy traffic.
Granted, Tulsa is not alone in its high amount of intersection accidents. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that 2.5 million accidents occur in intersections nationwide every year. They’re actually the second most common category of traffic accidents, accounting for 40% of all crashes throughout the country. Only rear-end collisions happen more often.
They also tend to be more deadly than other types of accidents. Around 50% of serious collisions occur in intersections, and they account for approximately 20% of all fatal crashes.
So what can you do to stay safe?
Although most of us consider ourselves to be good drivers, the evidence doesn’t always support that. While accidents, by nature, are unpredictable, there are things you can do to avoid them more easily.
- Don’t text and drive
- In 2014, approximately 431,000 people were injured and 3,179 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
- Wholly 10% of drivers aged 15 to 19 that were involved in fatal crashes were reported to be engaged in distracted behaviors at the time of the accident. This teen age bracket has the largest amount of distracted drivers.
- Your eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds every time you text. If you’re traveling at 55 mph, it would take only that same five seconds to cover the length of an entire football field.
- In November of 2015, the state of Oklahoma banned the use of texting while operating a moving vehicle. Offenders may be subject to a $100 fine.
If you have teen drivers, stress the importance of keeping cell phones stored away while driving — and be sure to follow these procedures yourself. Encourage others to speak up when they witness distracted driving behaviors. No text message or phone call can be worth risking your life over.
- Don’t drink and drive
- Every two minutes, a person is injured as a result of a drunk driving crash. Every day, 27 people die in drunk driving accidents.
- On average, two out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point during their lives.
- Over 1.1 million drivers were arrested in 2014 for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Though the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for adults over 21 in Oklahoma is 0.08, our state has a “zero tolerance” policy for drivers who are not of legal drinking age and who are caught with alcohol in their systems.
- Oklahoma also has laws of implied consent for BAC tests. This means that you could be automatically subjected to fines, penalties, and license suspensions if you refuse to take them.
If you have consumed alcohol or drugs, do not get behind the wheel. Call a family member, friend, or taxi service instead. Encourage your kids to do the same. Whatever small amount of embarrassment experienced is far better than getting into a potentially fatal accident.
- Exercise good judgment in intersections
- Most of the crashes that happen in intersections involve left-hand turns. Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists while making a left turn.
- If you attempt to go around someone making a left-hand turn, you may not be visible to an oncoming driver who is also attempting to make a left turn. As difficult as it may be, exercise patience and look carefully before going around drivers — and avoid doing so when possible.
- When the light at an intersection turns green, ease into the intersection as to not be stuck at a red light. Don’t slow down when going through an intersection unless absolutely necessary. Above all, never stop in the middle of an intersection.
- Always signal when making a turn or a lane change. Be sure to check your blind spot before changing lanes.
- Do not speed when going through an intersection, especially on turns. You could easily lose control on a tight turn.
- Even if you know other drivers have a red light, don’t assume that they will stop. An estimated 165,000 accidents occur every year due to drivers running red lights.
- Defensive driving is important. While you need to be cautious of other drivers and aware of everything that’s happening around you, you must also be definitive when making driving decisions. Accidents often occur when your actions come as a surprise to other drivers.
Be clear about your intentions and follow all driving laws, including posted speed limits. Taking a refresher course can be immensely helpful. Exercise caution in highly trafficked areas.
What should you do if you’ve been in a car accident?
In spite of all precautions you might have taken, accidents do happen. If you have been injured in a collision, call 911 and move to an area that’s a safe distance from oncoming traffic. Then…
- Exchange identifying, contact, and insurance information with the other driver(s).
- Take photographs of damage and any injuries you may have sustained.
- Make your statement to police. Avoid making any admissions of guilt to anyone. Obtain a copy of the police report.
- Accept medical care if necessary. Many times, your adrenaline levels will mask the need for medical care. Follow all recommendations for emergency treatment and allow the professionals to determine the extent of your injuries. If you’ve opted not to go to the ER, make an appointment with your primary care doctor.
- Notify the other driver’s insurance company. They may have already filed a claim by the time you contact them.
- Even if you don’t think your injuries are substantial, you may want to contact an attorney who specializes in personal injuries to advise you.