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Traffic expert reveals Seattle’s most dangerous intersections

Where are Seattle's most dangerous intersections? A collision investigator shed light on that Thursday. (KIRO 7)

Where are Seattle’s most dangerous intersections? According to SPD traffic collision investigator Scott Schmidt, they can be found at 130th and Aurora, 23rd Ave S and Rainier, and Holman Road after it turns east from 15th.

Schmidt answered questions as part of an “Ask Me Anything” session on Thursday, outlining the dangers posed by some of the city’s most dangerous intersections.

Both 130th and Aurora and the Holman Road intersections feature pedestrian overpasses. Schmidt noted that “several collisions” there have occurred when people failed to use those overpasses to cross.

At 23rd Ave S and Rainier, things are a little more dicey. That intersection features a hazardous six-way crossing, where the Seattle Department of Transportation is currently working to improve safety.

SDOT is hoping to reduce collisions at that intersection by cutting the street down from four to three lanes, widening sidewalks, fixing traffic signals, and creating a two-way center turn lane.

Schmidt went on to outline what the TCIS does when it analyzes collisions. That process includes the acquisition of phone records, review of surveillance and dashcam footage, observation of shoe scuffs, use of math formulas to determine positioning, and a 3D scanner that documents physical evidence.

The TCIS is also able to interpret data from a vehicle’s airbag.

“[We use] a device that’s able to interrogate the airbag control module or ‘black box,'” Schmidt described. “We can compare the electronic data to physical evidence recovered at the scene to conduct a momentum analysis and determine the proximate cause of the crash.”

In terms of the most prevalent cause of crashes, the answer wasn’t at all surprising.

“Inattention/distraction and impairment,” said Schmidt.

For the latter, he noted that the recent opioid epidemic has investigators seeing more collisions causes by a “combination of drugs, including prescription medication, and alcohol.”

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