What drivers should know about the two most dangerous intersections in Roanoke

By Rachel Lucas - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Statistically, two of the most dangerous intersections in Roanoke account for more than 200 crashes in the city each year.

The intersection of Orange Avenue and Williamson Road is the city's most dangerous, according to data collected by the Roanoke Police Department.

If you live or work in Roanoke, chances are you drive through the intersection often.

The same road your children's school bus takes is also traveled by 18-wheelers and rush-hour traffic.

"This intersection is probably by far the busiest intersection in Roanoke, especially in the morning and later in the evening," said Cameron Johnson, president of Magic City Ford, which sits at that intersection.

"Traffic gets backed up, it takes several light cycles to get through. It can get quite dangerous," explained Johnson.

Not only does he drive it, Johnson sees the chaos out his front window every day.

"It's very common to hear sirens go by," said Johnson, who's no stranger to the aftermath.

"After being in an accident they pull onto our lot while they call police," Johnson said.

At the heart of the city, the intersection is nearly impossible to get through, or around Roanoke without traveling through.

"It's an artery. It's a main road to get to anywhere in the city," said Roanoke City Traffic Safety Officer Fatima Foster.

That includes the thousands of people driving to and from events at the Berglund Center and those just wanting to know what's going on.

"A lot of people want to know why there is cars at the civic center," Foster said.

Foster said the majority of accidents are only property damage.

But in the past two years, two pedestrians have been killed near the area.

The number of pedestrians who are at the crosswalk, especially those who don't obey traffic signs, is another contributing factor that made this the most dangerous intersection in the city.

But Foster says the number one reason behind the accidents is distracted driving, a growing national trend.

"They are too busy talking on the phone or texting," Foster said.

Foster said the worst, most recent dangerous trend responsible for distracted driving is "selfies."

"Selfies are very popular while you are driving," Foster said. She says while driving in her personal vehicle, it's very common to see drivers snapping a quick picture of themselves while driving.

It's much of the same problem for second most dangerous intersection even though it's in a different part of the city. Data shows that the intersection of Melrose Avenue and Peters Creek Road in the NW part of the city is the second most dangerous intersection in the city.

David Moore, a home consultant who works with a bird's eye view of the intersection says there's a slight crown in the middle of the intersection.

He said speeding there is a bad idea.

"If you've got too much speed going through here trying to beat a red light, I've seen cars out of control, at least one flip, several accidents that almost happen," Moore said.

Foster says more than 50 accidents happen here each year.

Using a data-driven approach, Foster crunches the numbers to see where the data shows extra officers are needed.

"If the numbers reflect that there is an uptick, we focus our attention to that area, give it a little extra love so to speak," Foster said.

That means that not only are these the most dangerous, they are the most heavily patrolled by police.

Foster said the method has helped decrease the number of accidents at the Melrose Peter's Creek intersection overtime and they don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

She says their goal is to make sure drivers see police on patrol so they will focus their attention back on the road where it belongs.

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