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Special Report: Colorado Springs’ most dangerous intersections

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado Springs set a new record in 2020 for the number of lives lost in car crashes, with 51.

El Paso County also led the state in fatal crashes last year, with 84.

With the increases in deadly accidents, KRDO Newschannel 13 requested CSPD provide a list of the intersections with the most crashes last year.

*The digit in the Injury/Fatal category does not indicate exactly how many people were hurt or killed. It only indicates how many crashes involved injuries or deaths. Any type of injury, whether minor or serious, qualifies as an injury crash. A crash is any type of incident that involves damage, whether a car runs into another car or into a pole. If a car slides off the road during winter weather and there is no damage, it is not considered a crash in this report.

Intersections along I-25 account for 8 of the top 10, making it by far the source of the most crashes.

The top 3 are:

  • I25 & S Nevada / S Tejon
  • I25 & Garden of the Gods
  • I25 & Lake / S Circle

However, the analysis is slightly misleading, because not all of the crashes happened at the actual intersection.

A CSPD spokesperson explained that even if a crash along I-25 happens several hundred yards before or after Nevada, it might still be connected to that intersection simply because it was the nearest cross street.

It's also unclear how many of the crashes happened on the interstate versus underneath the interstate at each of those locations.

For that reason, KRDO Newschannel 13 instead focused on locations not along the interstate that you might not have thought were some of the most dangerous in town.

Powers and Stetson Hills in northeast Colorado Springs was the top non-interstate location for crashes in 2020, with 47, averaging almost one every week.

In four of those crashes, at least one person was hurt, but no one was killed.

Second on the non-interstate list is Fountain and Academy, the first of several along Academy.

There were 40 crashes there last year, including one in June that killed two soldiers from Fort Carson after their small sedan was left pinned under a semi truck.

The third most crash-prone intersection is less than a mile north, Airport and Academy, which happens to have a red light camera.

There were 38 crashes there in 2020.

Four sent someone to the hospital, but none were fatal.

There were 34 crashes at Austin Bluffs and Academy, which also has a red light camera.

There were 33 crashes at Platte and Academy, including one deadly wreck in January that killed a 19-year-old woman and left two others with serious injuries.

Academy and Galley is only sixth on the list for the most crashes in 2020, but it's tied for first for the most fatal crashes.

There were two at this intersection last year, both involving pedestrians, one of whom was a 62 year old man in a wheelchair.

Gabriel Russo, a pedestrian who crosses Academy toward the Citadel Mall regularly, says he's not surprised to hear that the intersection ranks among the deadliest in the city, blaming drivers for not paying attention.

"You never know what's going through someone's head, or what they're thinking," he said.

Pedestrian Don Parton added, "People are in a rush. People don't have the patience to want to do that, and this road, it kind of brings the worst out in people from time to time."

It should be noted that within the first 10 minutes of observing Academy and Galley, a KRDO crew witnessed two people, including Russo, crossing Academy without the right of way indicated by the white "Walk" crossing symbol.

It was a solid orange hand indicating "Don't Walk".

Because of one man's decision not to wait for the right of way, he ended up stranded halfway across, dangerously stuck between cars speeding past in opposite directions.

Less than two weeks ago, another pedestrian was killed just west of Academy and Galley, when not using a crosswalk at all.

Crossing without the proper signal is exactly what police believe happened in both fatal crashes at this intersection last year.

Our crew tested the crosswalk button, and actually had to press it a second time, but eventually got the all clear to safely cross Academy.

CSPD Lt. James Sokolik says his department doesn't just compile annual lists like the one produced for KRDO. They are produced every month, then passed along to the commanders in each of the city's four patrol divisions, and officers then decide whether more patrols are needed in those areas or whether the intersection itself could be improved.

"Most of our intersections, we've already gone through over time and looked at to see if this is an engineering issue," explains Sokolik, "but we absolutely look at the engineering and talking with Engineering to ask if there is an engineering issue and have them look at that. We talk with Streets. Is there a signage issue?"

Sokolik says whether car crashes kill 51, or 1, it's too many.

With more people than ever arriving in the city, and driving in the city, keeping the number of crashes and fatalities down is harder than ever.

In response to the rising numbers of traffic deaths in El Paso County and across the state, the Colorado State Patrol plans to beef up its presence along I25 and other state roads in 2021.

Bart Bedsole

Bart is the evening anchor for KRDO. Learn more about Bart here.

Comments

13 Comments

  1. Hmm, well why doesn’t the City of Colorado Springs use this knowledge and simply put the traffic patrol units on Academy and I-25 since the vast majority of the accidents occur on these major roadways according to the provided data. Officer presence is the first step in the use of force continuum, yet these known hotspots rarely have any presence. Wondering why this is a problem, one only has to look at the lack of presence and understand why these intersections are having these problems. Again, the root of the problem is too many administrators, and not enough patrolmen and patrolwomen to adequately enforce law enforcement in this region. Perhaps it is also exasurbated by the timings CDOT has placed upon the stoplights to disrupt a better flow through these extremely busy areas. Perhaps if the city didn’t narrow so many of the backroads for the addition of now empty bicycle lanes that only further congested the already congested roadways, this wouldn’t have happened.

    The problem isn’t the populace ignoring the unenforced MTC, the problem is not enough Law Enforcement to enforce the MTC effectively and the City administrators keep complicating the already congested roadways for unneeded programs like removing lanes of traffic for adding bicycle lanes.

    1. I completely disagree.
      Many of the crashes have nothing to do with having an officer there or not.They would just witness the crash first hand. It is not a speeding problem but a paying attention problem.
      Congestion is not an excuse. Well maybe….. people in traffic jams can’t help but play with their phone and catch up on facebook and then hit someone or get hit because they were not paying attention.
      The main problem is many drivers just don’t pay attention and are happy to drive distracted. They when in a crash they play the victim.
      Many years of responding to crashes with the FD/Ambulance taught me this.

      1. And if there was a greater officer presence people would be less apt to violating the laws like you are stating. Yes, self management is the best, but when this fails as we are seeing, you can’t convince people that have already made the conscientious and deliberate action to ignore the laws like you state. The only repercussion left on the table is more law enforcement presence to enforce the MTC.

        I respect that you disagree, but what you are proposing is the same course of action that we have been on for the last 30+ years. It hasn’t slowed or stopped the problem so far, but when law enforcement enforces the laws in an area you can see on the HEAT Map that it does have an impact. So statistical data and history lends credence to my statements. Being first on scene waiting for the Ambulance and fire to arrive and also having to investigate the scene brings a more in-depth perspective than just stabilizing then hauling the person to the hospital.

        1. Typically in an injury crash police are not the first to arrive.
          If you really want to see change. Make fines higher and consequences tougher. If you know you can get a $1500 fine for texting and driving and another $4000 if you cause a crash. People would change and the ones who didn’t can no longer afford to drive.

          1. I am neither in agreement nor disagreement with your statement so far. Based upon what you are saying regarding an increased to fines, how do you not create a debtor’s prison when parties that can’t pay these fines then have to go to jail for FTC solely based upon the size of the fine? Also, if you are now in agreement that increasing fines would fix the problem, then, are you conceding that officer presence would have to still occur first to have the ability to issue penalty assessments and summonses?

            I cannot speak to the calls you responded to, but the calls I responded to, I did arrive first on scene simply because I was not camping out at the police department but out in my district, and not within an overwhelmed LEA. I don’t recall seeing fire / ems patrolling ever, I only remember seeing them away from their firehouse when they were either out conducting fire inspections, getting food, or on an active call where they were dispatched typically with an ETA of drivetime from the firehouse to the scene (Not counting special events). With how understaffed CSPD is, I wouldn’t be surprised if your response time from the firehouse would beat CSPD as they are consistently stacked on calls for service and once they can clear their last call they have to move to the next, so that does make sense in this situation. When fire / ems arrived on scene did you folks investigate the traffic accident scene and complete the State of Colorado Traffic Accident Report or was your primary responsibility stabilizing the patient(s) and getting them to an appropriate drop-site for Flight for life or a hospital to advance their medical care?

  2. “It’s also unclear how many of the crashes happened on the interstate versus underneath the interstate at each of those locations.”
    .
    The same is true for several intersections in the City, such as Platte and Academy, as well as others that don’t even have an overpass. Each of those intersections is essentially several different intersections, and not all of them have the same incidence of crashes.
    .
    And not taking into account the number of injuries or fatalities in each crash fails to address the real severity of the crashes.

  3. UM I-25 and fillmore is not an intersection….It’s 3rd grade artwork made reality GONE BAD…..and there is a punch line somewhere in there too.

  4. The most dangerous intersection in the city is Kiowa and Nevada – as that is where the nutjobs on the city council work.

  5. Here is a question for KRDO to investigate regarding specifically how the State of Colorado Traffic Accident Report informs law enforcement to complete the form to assign fault of the traffic accident and how the State of Colorado informs people to fill out the State of Colorado Traffic Accident Report when cold reporting. Specifically, how the person that is assigned to vehicle #1. The State of Colorado clearly advises Law Enforcement that the vehicle they assign in the #1 position is the “at fault” Driver. This information can be found in the “Crash Reporting Manual” page 20, it states,

    “Traffic Unit #1 should be assigned to either the non-motorist or the vehicle whose driver is cited (or could
    have been cited) for a motor vehicle law violation that contributed to the crash. A drunk bicyclist or a
    pedestrian not in a crosswalk would be examples of an at-fault non-motorist.”

    codot .gov /about /committees /strac /dr3447

    Now when we look at the instructions attached to cold reporting

    coloradosprings .gov /sites /default /files /csp_crash_447-e-instructions.pdf

    “7. You are vehicle #1, the other driver is vehicle #2, 3, etc. If any of the vehicles were
    parked or a bicycle or pedestrian was involved, place an “X” by the word “Parked”,
    “Bicycle”, or “Pedestrian”, as appropriate.”

    Same form law enforcement utilizes minus the intersection diagram, sent to the same department but now with a cold report where both parties that have submitted, under the instruction of the State of Colorado that they are to list themselves as vehicle #1, are in fact both admitting they were mutually “At Fault”.

    Why does this matter to KRDO’s viewers? This form is utilized to assign fault for insurance claims. In a situation where an accident is mutually claimed as both at fault your insurance company raises your insurance rates. And this occurs regardless of the lack of an investigation done by LE since it is a cold call. So unknowingly you have admitted by filling out this form and following the instructions provided by the state you are being told you are accepting fault when you put your vehicle in the #1 position. So if you are involved in an accident where you do believe the other vehicle was “at fault”, you have no option to list this otherwise under the instructions the state instructs you to have to follow. This also isn’t just a CSPD cold reporting problem, this is state-wide.

    So if you are involved in a Traffic accident where the other driver is “at-fault” but cold reporting is in effect and you are not aware this will occur, what is this victim expected to do to correctly rectify this when they are unaware that following the instructions provided on the State of Colorado Traffic Accident Report Instructions for Completing a Counter Crash Report are making them claim Fault, without their knowledge of how the state completes this form.

    1. Same form law enforcement utilizes minus the intersection diagram “and the overlay information”

  6. I wasn’t surprised to see I-25 and Woodman on that list. Whomever thought this was a great idea is a moron.

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