WREG investigates most dangerous intersections in Memphis, what’s causing crashes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When you think about the dangers in Memphis, crime probably comes to mind. However, some of the most dangerous places are roads.

The National Safety Council says 40,000 people were killed on roads last year, which is the highest number in almost a decade. It’s also a 15 percent jump in the last two years.

“I’ve been here about four years and I’ve never seen so many accidents," said Sandra Gales.

Gales said she drives around Shelby County for work and tries to never take her eyes off the wheel.

“Particularly Lamar, they have a lot of accidents on Lamar," she said.

WREG wanted to see where the most collisions take place in the city.

The number one spot? Poplar Avenue and Ridgeway Road.

Since 2014, there’s been an average of nearly four car crashes there a week.

“I’ve seen a couple here and there," said Justin Lynch.

Lynch lives around the corner and said he’s not surprised the East Memphis intersection tops the list.

“People are more in a hurry trying to get to where they’re actually going and not paying attention to light changes," he said.

Coming in second for most collisions is Winchester Road and Riverdale Road in Southeast Memphis. It sees an average of three crashes a week.

Shelby Drive and Lamar Avenue, Sycamore View Road and Summer Avenue, and Winchester Road and Kirby Parkway follow closely behind.

“I’m not surprised because it’s a lot of wrecks that happen right here," said Cynthia Peete about Winchester and Kirby Parkway making the list.

The majority of these intersections have topped the list for over a decade.

“I’m not surprised," said Lieutenant Colonel Eddie Bass with the Memphis Police Traffic Division.

Lt. Colonel Bass said they’re all in high-traveled areas for people getting to work and school.

“We do see our fair share of bad crashes," he said.

But what’s causing them?

“I think most people are texting," said Gales. "They’re texting and driving.”

“A lot of them are speeding when they don’t need to be speeding," said Peete.

City engineers said 94 percent of all traffic collisions involve some form of driver error and police said drivers being on their phones is what they see the most.

A study by AAA shows 19 to 24 year olds are the worst drivers.

“I would agree with that," said Lt. Colonel Bass.

The study found 88 percent of millennials admitted to speeding, running a red light or texting while driving in the past month. They're also twice more likely than other drivers to send a text.

“It is very dangerous," said Peete. "They’re not paying attention to what they’re doing anyway.”

But Peete said it starts at home.

“It’s on us," she said. "It’s not on the police; they can only do so much. They can’t be everywhere.”

City engineers said in a statement they’re “aware of the number of accidents at the intersections referenced" and later said, “Federally funded safety projects are regularly implemented to provide improvements at these locations," which includes fixing the road conditions and turn angles.

They’ve also added 33 red light cameras to intersections across the city in the past eight years, including those five on the list. Four of them were given cameras in the past three years.

“There’s a reduction, we can tell," said Lt. Colonel Bass. "We can definitely tell.”

The number of overall collisions has fluctuated at those intersections since getting red light cameras.

City engineers said the majority of crashes involve cars getting rear ended or side swept and typically don’t involve injuries.

However, they can have an impact on everyone behind the wheel.

“It’s causing the insurance rates to go up," said Gales. "Mine just recently went up again because of the accidents in Tennessee.”

The number of crashes also triple on some areas along Interstate 240 and Interstate 40, including Walnut Grove Road, Sycamore View Road, Poplar Avenue and Lamar Avenue.

Memphis police said they’ve been working with Tennessee Highway Patrol to decrease the number of crashes in the city.