Speed and driver error cause most traffic accidents and provide dubious fame for certain county intersections, the so-called "hot corners" where vehicular crashes are most frequent.
The three Harford intersections rated the most accident prone by the State Highway Administration are:
* U.S. 1 at Route 543 (Ady Road);
* Route 24 at Route 924/Tollgate Road;
* Route 7 at Route 755 (Edgewood Road).
The SHA rates an intersection by computing the number of accidents per million vehicles entering it. U.S. 1 at Route 543 had 11 accidents while Route 24 at Route 924 had 24 accidents. The volume of traffic was much greater at the second intersection, so the rating is lower.
The third-worst corner, Route 7 at Route 755, had 12 accidents.
These conclusions are drawn from statistics for 1991, the most ++ recent data available.
Two other Harford hot corners were U.S. 40 at Edgewood Road with 16 accidents and U.S. 40 at Route 152 with 25 accidents. These intersections were ranked fourth and fifth in the study.
Sgt. Wesley J. Picha of the Sheriff's Office traffic unit is familiar with the Harford intersections.
"If people would slow down and be more patient, the entire situation would improve," Sergeant Picha said.
In some instances, physical problems at intersections can be corrected. For example, the left-turn lanes at U.S. 1 and Route 543 were lengthened to accommodate more cars. Doing so lessens the logjam of drivers who do not want to turn, allowing for a smoother traffic flow.
"We meet and discuss these problems every month with State Highways," Sergeant Picha said. "If a problem can be solved by makingchanges, it's done. But, in some cases, there is no space to make physical changes."
Sheriff's Deputy DeWayne Curry has first-hand knowledge of the danger at Route 924 and Route 24. On March 5, he was stopped in the left-turn lane on Route 924, the second car in line at the red traffic signal.
A turning van and a car collided, causing the van to spin into the car in front of Deputy Curry's vehicle. That car in turn struck his.
"It was a miserable, foggy night and raining," Deputy Curry said. "The weather was part of the cause, I believe. And that's another factor to consider when analyzing accidents."
The most accident prone roadway in the state is in Baltimore County at Route 7 and Rossville Boulevard, the SHA says, based on its rating per million vehicles entering that intersection in 1991 and 38 accidents.