The intersection where East Tennessee State University’s president was hit by a wrecker driver who ran a red light late Monday afternoon is not particularly dangerous in terms of the number of crashes that happen there, according to statistics from the Johnson City Police Department.
“As far as what the numbers are showing, it’s not,” one of the more dangerous crossings, said JCPD Sgt. Jim Tallmadge about West Watauga Avenue and West Market Street.
“Sight distance really isn’t the problem. That’s the perception ... but the real problem is people running the red light,” he said.
In 2011, there were three crashes at the location, six in 2012 and so far this year there have been five. Three of the crashes this year were single-vehicle wrecks.
Near misses, Tallmadge said, aren’t reported and the police department wouldn’t know about them unless an officer saw it.
Most of the crashes at the intersection are angle crashes, with one vehicle on West Market and the other on West Watauga, according to Tallmadge.
That’s what happened Tuesday when Dr. Brian Noland was hit, the officer said. And while the crashes are often T-bone, Noland’s was not.
“Last night, it wouldn’t qualify as a T-bone. It didn’t impact on the side,” Talmadge said. “The wrecker was in the left lane (on West Market), Dr. Noland was in the right lane (on West Watauga). It was a corner to corner,” he said.
City Traffic Engineer Anthony Todd said there haven’t been changes to the area around the intersection recently, except for a reduction of the speed limit a couple of years ago.
“The sight distance probably isn’t the best in the world,” but drivers should prepare to stop if the light turns yellow, Todd said. The yellow light is four seconds long, which is one second longer than the minimum required by state law, he said.