|Updated: 6/26/2012 9:07 am
||Published: 6/25/2012 6:39 pm
One car crash after another, sometimes more than one in a single day, all at a single downtown Tulsa intersection have Tulsa police alarmed.
A FOX23 News viewer raised the issue of the growing problem at 7th St. and S. Elgin Ave in downtown Tulsa.
Tulsa police officers didn't realize how bad the problem had gotten until FOX23 News asked them to pull traffic accident records for the intersection.
Those records showed between January 1 and June 13 there were between 45 and 50 traffic collisions in the traffic enforcement beat including the eastern half of downtown. At least 24 of those collisions happened in the intersection of 7th St. and Elgin.
"That doesn't surprise me a bit," Brian Urich, who works nearby, said. "I've seen several."
Urich said some weeks, crashes at 7th and Elgin seem like a daily occurrence.
"Usually they're traveling at a fairly high rate of speed, particularly off this off-ramp (from US-75)," Urich said. "It could be 35, 40 miles an hour, and you t-bone somebody at that rate of speed it's going to be a serious accident."
He said part of the problem is that there's no grace period between the stop lights.
"As soon as one turns green, the other one turns red, instead of them all being red for a half a second or so."
"That is alarming," Officer Craig Murray, Traffic Safety Coordinator for the Tulsa Police Department, said. "It could be a very alarming number."
Murray said people trying to beat red lights is the most common cause for the accidents, and is a very dangerous problem.
FOX23 News rode along with a patrol officer to see just how big of a problem red light running is at the intersection. It took less than 30 seconds for the officer to make his first stop for somebody running the red light.
The second traffic stop for a red light runner again came less than 30 seconds after the officer started waiting for an offender to cross the intersection. That time, the officer said the driver had been drinking.
In all, FOX23 News witnessed four such traffic stops, and none of them took more than 60 seconds to find someone running the light.
Now that the problem is on Murray's radar, he said something will need to change, and soon.
"It's something we have to address," he said. "And whether we address it as law enforcement on slowing some people down, making sure they stop at the light, and also from a traffic engineering standpoint."
"It's a very big problem," Urich lamented. "But it's easily corrected, I think."
In addition to increasing police enforcement in the area, Murray said he contacted Tulsa's Traffic Engineering Department to see if the 25mph speed limit signs on 7th Street could be moved closer to the off-ramp from US-75 to drivers would see them and start slowing down sooner. He also asked the traffic engineers if it would be possible to increase the amount of time between when lights in one direction turn red and the lights in the opposite direction turn green.
Under city traffic laws, if a driver is not completely through an intersection before the traffic light turns red, they are in violation and could be subject to a citation and fine.
The fine for running a yellow light is $150. It goes up to $200 if a driver runs a red light.