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Oakland County ‘triangle’ area is tops for roundabout car crashes

April 12, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

If you drive a roundabout intersection in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor, drive with extra caution around the ones that saw the most car accidents in 2016

Over the past 10 years in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor, roundabout intersections have been gradually replacing traditional traffic-light intersections throughout the state

But many drivers aren’t thrilled with these new roundabouts. Many drivers find them confusing. Roundabouts only work if the drivers who are using them also know how to use them properly.

What we can say for sure is that roundabouts are causing a lot of car accidents in Metro Detroit. No fewer than four of 2016’s Most Dangerous Intersections were ones with roundabouts.

Some communities are becoming more proactive to reduce these roundabout car crashes. Just this month, several local police agencies collaborated on a Washtenaw County roundabout enforcement project to ensure local drivers obey traffic laws.

We are hopeful that efforts like the one in Washtenaw County will help drivers navigate these intersections safer and with fewer crashes as more drivers become educated in how to use roundabouts properly. Our own attorneys have advocated for roundabouts because they have fewer car crash contact points and they are a proven way to reduce the severity of injuries from car accidents. They also can improve traffic flow. Assuming they are used safely — and we are clearly in a transition period where many Michigan drivers are still becoming accustomed to driving through roundabouts — they really are a safer alternative.

If you’d like to see where all existing and proposed roundabouts are in Michigan, our Roundabout Resource Center has an interactive map of roundabouts, as well as safety tips for drivers.

Top 10 Michigan Roundabout Intersections with Car Accidents in 2016

Rank Intersection Total Crashes Injury Crashes Only
1 Orchard Lake Road @ 14 Mile Road
Farmington Hills/West Bloomfield, Oakland County
163 27
2 Martin Parkway/M-5 @ Pontiac Trail
Commerce Twp., Oakland County
144 6
3 State Street @ Ellsworth Road
Ann Arbor/Pittsfield Twp., Washtenaw County
120 5
4 18 1/2 Mile Road @ M-53/Van Dyke Ramp
Sterling Heights, Macomb County
92 4
5 Lee Road @ Whitmore Lake Road (two west roundabouts)
Green Oak Twp., Livingston County
89 5
6 Farmington Road @ 14 Mile Road
Farmington Hills/West Bloomfield, Oakland County
83 16
7 Livernois Road @ Hamlin Road
Rochester Hills, Oakland County
70 4
8 Farmington Road @ Maple Road
West Bloomfield, Oakland County
57 12
9 Oakley Park Road @ Martin Parkway
Commerce Twp., Oakland County
51 0
10 Remembrance Road NW @ Wilson Avenue NW
Walker, Kent County
49 8

Source: Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reporting Unit

Note: 2016 data is still considered preliminary. Roundabouts constructed in 2016 are not included on this list until a full year of data is available.

Visit our new Michigan Dangerous Intersections page for a complete list of intersection car crashes that can be searched by any Michigan city or county. It is important to note that the injuries listed below are those reported at the scene of a motor vehicle crash. This is not always a reliable indicator of whether someone was injured or not in a car crash.

No. 1: Orchard Lake and 14 Mile roads, Farmington Hills/West Bloomfield, Oakland County, 163 car crashes, 42 injuries

New to the No. 1 spot is an intersection that was modified from a traffic light to a roundabout during the 2015 construction season. As part of the Northwestern Connector project, this intersection is one of three points in a busy “triangle” area and underwent a change in how traffic flows in the vicinity.

The good news is that only 27 of the 163 total crashes here resulted in injuries — a very low rate compared to traditional traffic lights. But with two traffic light intersections less than 500 feet away — one at Northwestern Highway’s terminus at Orchard Lake, the other at 14 Mile and Northwestern — congestion likely adds to the rise in car crashes.

No. 2: Pontiac Trail and M-5/Martin Parkway, Commerce Township, Oakland County, 144 car crashes, 6 injuries

This intersection, which had the highest overall crashes in 2015, saw fewer accidents in 2016 — 144, compared to 186 in 2015 — as well as a 66% decrease in overall injuries. In June 2016, the Road Commission for Oakland County installed fences as an experimental solution in an effort to slow down drivers and reduce the number of crashes — and that measure appears to be working.

No. 3: State Street and Ellsworth Road, Ann Arbor/Pittsfield Township, Washtenaw County, 120 car crashes, 5 injuries

As this area has grown in both retailers and population over the past few years, traffic volumes contribute to a high number of fender benders.

No. 4: Van Dyke Avenue/M-53 and 18½ Mile Road, Sterling Heights, Macomb County, 92 car crashes, 4 injuries

This congested area has M-53/Van Dyke traffic exiting onto a roundabout near the Ford Van Dyke plant. In 2016, only 4 injuries occurred — a much lower amount compared to prior years for this area.

No. 5: Lee and Whitmore Lake roads (two west roundabouts), Green Oak Township, Livingston County, 89 car crashes, 5 injuries

Not only does this intersection have two roundabouts set up next to one another, but one of them greets motorists exiting or entering southbound U.S. 23. A bevy of big-box stores surrounds this intersection as well.

No. 6: 14 Mile and Farmington roads, Farmington Hills/West Bloomfield, 83 car crashes, 16 injuries

The slight increase in car crashes over the 79 accidents in 2015 is probably the result of higher than usual traffic detouring through the area — 13 Mile Road was under extensive construction in 2016, while other nearby roads were closed or re-routed as well.

No. 7: Livernois and Hamlin Roads, Rochester Hills, Oakland County, 70 car crashes, 4 injuries

In 2016, this intersection — which is surrounded by industrial parks and sprawling subdivisions — saw a 42% increase in car crashes over 2015’s 41 accidents.

No. 8: Farmington and Maple roads, West Bloomfield, Oakland County, 57 car crashes, 12 injuries

Maple Road between Farmington and Drake roads was closed for construction for several months in 2016, which could explain why this intersection just east of there saw a nearly 50% decrease in car crashes from 2015.

No. 9: Martin Parkway and Oakley Park Road, Commerce Township, Oakland County, 51 car crashes, zero injuries reported at scene

This roundabout — one of three along Martin Parkway — is in the center of an area that has industrial complexes, warehouses and an outdoor gun range, as well as more businesses and residences being built close by.

No. 10: Remembrance Road NW and Wilson Avenue NW (M-11), Walker, Kent County, 49 crashes, 8 injuries

This odd-angled intersection west of Grand Rapids had historically seen several multi-vehicle accidents during rush-hour commutes, before being reconfigured as a roundabout in September 2015.

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