SPECIAL REPORT: Data reveals top 20 most dangerous spots to drive in Mid-MO
Motor vehicle fatalities were on the rise in Missouri in 2016 and have been for the past three years.
According to Missouri State Highway Patrol data, 945 people died in car crashes in 2016.
While experts say crashes can be caused by a multitude of factors, KRCG 13 wanted to identify the locations in Mid-Missouri where injury and fatality crashes were most likely to occur.
Mid-Missouri motorcyclist Daniel Olsen said he’s all too familiar with one of the locations – specifically, the intersection of South Ten Mile Dr. and Missouri Boulevard. A crash there left Olsen's motorcycle - and body - mangled.
"I can't feel all this right here, it's completely numb. It has a steel rod going through here and I don't know how many screws,” he said. said. Olsen said he was driving down Missouri Blvd one night, when suddenly, the next thing he was aware of was going in and out of consciousness at a hospital.
"The guy just drove right through the stop sign at Ten Mile Dr., he didn't bother stopping at all,” he said. “He drove directly into the side of me."
Olsen said he doesn’t believe the crash was caused by the roads' layout - but the number of crashes at that location were still worth noting.
KRCG 13 dug through three years of Missouri State Highway Patrol Crash Data to figure out where injury or fatality crashes were most likely to happen. In order to answer that question, we isolated injury and fatality accidents that were reported by Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F and identified the roadways where troopers reported crashes happened both "at" and "on". We then compiled a list of the locations with the top 20 most injury or fatality crashes in the past three years.
As noted above, there were 20 injury or fatality crashes at South Ten Mile Dr. and Missouri Boulevard, the location of Olsen’s crash.
Only two other locations in Mid-Missouri had more injury or fatality crashes - US 63 and Interstate 70 with 27, and Missouri Boulevard and US 50 with 26.
Missouri Department of Transportation District Traffic Engineer Trent Brooks said changes to locations deemed treacherous by data aren't always easy to implement.
"Some of those changes can be very costly. So identifying the project, identifying the funding that's needed, and then ultimately trying to get something done can take a while," he said.
In certain cases, Brooks said switching things up isn't always the answer.
"If we have an intersection that's having some severe crashes and typically those would be right angle type crashes, then a signal might be a good solution or a roundabout might be a good solution,” he said.
Brooks encouraged also considering the flipside of implementing such a fix: "Now you've introduced a stop to that road, and so what you typically see is that the rear-ends at those intersections increase."
He said the priority – either decreasing the number of crashes or lessening the severity of crashes – could change depending on the situation at each individual location.
Brooks said it was important to know where serious crashes happen most - but also noted the battle for safer roads couldn’t only be fought at certain intersections.
"Whether it's a signal, whether it's a stop sign, whether it's just the open road, paying attention to driving can be the most important thing people can do," he said.
Brooks said the real fix to decreasing crashes like Olsen’s at the locations identified in this story is for drivers to limit distractions and pay attention to the task at hand.