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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.

Article Topic Follows: News

Bart Bedsole

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

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