LIMA — It’s official. The Fort Amanda/Shawnee roundabout has placed first as the intersection with the most crashes — 78 from 2017 to 2019 — in Allen County.
This past month, the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission released its latest report tracking the number of crashes in each intersection throughout the county. Based on a three-year average, the Shawnee roundabout climbed the list to No. 1 this year, pushing down the county’s highest trafficked intersections — both of them on Cable Road — to second and third.
That, however, doesn’t mean the Shawnee roundabout is the most dangerous intersection in Allen County. In fact, the intersection’s EPDO rate, which is determined by tracking property damage amounts and injuries from accidents, is set at 1.23. In comparison, the intersection of Elida and Cable roads’ EPDO rate is 2.73, and the intersection of Allentown and Cable roads’ rate is 3.43.
In other words, while plenty of accidents occur at the Shawnee roundabout, the data reports that the intersection’s design still safely and effectively funnels traffic through the intersection. As for driver safety, data shows that only four injuries occurred there during the last three years.
“The roundabout is doing its job,” LACRPC Engineer Adam Haunhorst said. “You’re seeing more accidents but far less injuries.”
With that said, Allen County Engineer Brion Rhodes has taken some initiative to see what can be done to reduce the number of accidents in the Shawnee roundabout. After consulting with a national roundabout expert, he expects the county to make a few minimal changes meant to influence drivers to slow down and stay in their lanes when moving through the intersection.
Changes include moving the yield lines forward, narrowing the roundabout lanes, emphasizing the road markings and adding overhanging signage to better coach people through the intersection.
The idea for the improvements, Rhodes said, is to slow down the pace of traffic so people can better respond to driving mistakes before an accident happens and encourage drivers to stay in their lanes.
While Shawnee’s roundabout can claim the highest number of traffic accidents, the most dangerous intersection in the county, according to EPDO rate, is located at Harding Highway and Thayer Road. The intersection tracked a 12.88 EPDO rating due to one fatality and 15 injuries occurring at the intersection despite having less than half of the daily traffic of the Shawnee roundabout.
Other highly EPDO-rated intersections include Spencerville and Wapakoneta, Thayer and Bluelick and Eastown and Market.
In comparison, intersections with the highest number of traffic accidents include Elida and Cable, Allentown and Cable, Allentown and Eastown and Eastown and Elida, primarily due to having the highest daily traffic counts.
A spokesperson with District 1 of the Ohio Department of Transportation, which is responsible for many of the above intersections, said ODOT has been keeping track of the data at each intersection, but there’s currently no plans for upgrades at this time outside of fine-tuning traffic signals.
As for the total number of accidents throughout Allen County, the LACRPC reported a 6% increase in 2019 compared to 2018, and data on types of crashes suggests an increased preponderance of improper passing procedures.
An overview of crash data also tracks who was involved in traffic accidents. Just over half of all crashes in the county involved a driver under the age of 25, while the age group accounted for less than 15% of licensed drivers. Male drivers, too, were more likely to be involved in fatal crashes.
Haunhorst said planning engineers use the data to try to find solutions to eliminate the danger of an intersection. When anomalies in the data arise, engineers may visit an intersection to figure out what behaviors, or aspects of traffic design, may be leading to dangerous accidents.
“We’re just looking for possible solutions. It’s hard to say what causes a definitive problem. A lot of the time, it’s putting pieces together,” Haunhorst said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.