In Hampton Roads, we know about bad traffic.
Whether it’s six miles of congestion backed up from the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, a car crash near Busch Gardens or a disabled tractor-trailer, area residents have seen their fair share of road issues.
Crashes are caused by a multitude of factors, but, generally, more cars and distractions mean more crashes, according to local police and the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“These include things like traffic volume, geometry, sight distance, roadside environment, and driver behavior,” VDOT spokeswoman Brittany McBride Nichols said.
As a heavily-traveled road, Interstate 64 is a common spot for vehicle crashes, but there are other roads and intersections in the Historic Triangle that see a higher number of vehicle crashes, Department of Motor Vehicles data shows.
So, where are those hot spots?
The crash map
The DMV tracks the location of vehicle crashes annually in Virginia and plots them on an interactive map.
The map, based off police reports, indicates if the crashes were fatal, involved pedestrians or alcohol and more.
The DMV also tracks areas with crash “clusters,” where multiple wrecks have happened within 250 feet of each other, but there haven’t been enough crashes to trigger a “cluster” count in the Historic Triangle in recent years.
The 2018 crash points are scattered throughout Williamsburg, James City County and York County, although the map shows some “hot” areas where there are more crash points.
There have been 137 crashes in 2018 in the City of Williamsburg, the DMV map shows. Seventeen of those were near the intersection of lower Monticello Avenue and Richmond Road.
A steady string of crashes also stretches up Richmond Road toward the Williamsburg Premium Outlets, and in the area around William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg.
James City County has seen 674 crashes so far in 2018, including a series of 60 crashes on Monticello Avenue between New Town and Williamsburg National Golf Club.
I-64 in James City County has had 135 crashes in 2018.
The DMV maps shows 895 crashes since Jan. 1 in York County along George Washington Memorial Highway, Lightfoot and near Busch Gardens.
Of those 895 crashes, 297 have been on I-64 this year. A chunk of the crashes — 197 — have also happened on George Washington Memorial Highway.
James City County spokeswoman Stephanie Williams said driver distraction and high traffic volume are contributing factors in area crashes.
“Distractions can include anything from texting and driving, eating, changing a radio station to distractions by passengers,” Williams said.
McBride Nichols said 93 percent of crashes are a direct result of driver behavior, to some extent.
Areas such as George Washington Memorial Highway, Monticello Avenue and I-64 ramps see a higher number of crashes because they have a larger number of “interacting” vehicles, McBride Nichols said.
Some safety issues stem from roads and intersections with older designs.
“Many are older designs intended for less traffic than they are seeing today, or the area around the traffic facility has built up significantly adding to the complexity of the environment with closely spaced turns and entrances,” McBride Nichols said.
Finding a fix
VDOT is always working to identify problem areas and find ways to make improvements to areas with high crash rates, McBride Nichols said.
VDOT compiles traffic and crash information from multiple sources, including the DMV, independent studies, traffic engineering studies, local government leaders and other corridor-wide safety studies.
Some road construction projects are the result of VDOT working to update older designs in crash-prone areas, such as the I-64 and George Washington Memorial Highway widening projects.
“Safety is VDOT’s top priority, which is why we are continually identifying and working on road construction projects across Hampton Roads to improve safety along these busy corridors and ultimately reduce crash rates as much as possible,” McBride Nichols said.