Crashes, injuries drop at I-10 interchange in Daphne

By Allison Marlow
Managing Editor
allisonm@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 7/8/22

Officials announced this week that traffic accidents and injuries have been cut in half since the installation of the state's first diverging diamond interchange at the intersection of Alabama 181 …

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Crashes, injuries drop at I-10 interchange in Daphne

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Officials announced this week that traffic accidents and injuries have been cut in half since the installation of the state's first diverging diamond interchange at the intersection of Alabama 181 and I-10 in Daphne.

July marks the second anniversary of the project's completion. This week the Alabama Department of Transportation released numbers comparing the number of accidents and injuries in the intersection before and after its opening.

Crash data samples taken from March 2018 through March 2019, one year before the start of construction, shows a total of 100 crashes with 29 of those involving injury at the intersection.

Data taken between July 2021 and July 2022, one year after construction finished, shows 41 crashes resulting in four injuries at the same intersection. The drop is a 58% decrease in total crashes and 86% decrease in injuries.

James Gordon, ALDOT communications specialist, said the drop is due to a change in the type of accidents happening in the intersection.

"If you look at the type of crashes, previously the crashes were much more severe, now we are seeing more fender bender type events and less people are being hurt," he said.

Experts said front and side impact crashes that are common at traditional interchanges often result in more injuries than rear-end crashes.

"The department is thrilled with the success we have seen thus far related to improving safety of this interchange," Matthew Ericksen, region engineer, wrote in a press release. "These preliminary statistics are proof that DDIs are an innovative and effective strategy."

Baldwin County is home to the only diverging diamond intersection in the state. A second is currently in the planning stages for a Birmingham interchange.

Before the diverging diamond was built, traffic moved haltingly through the interchange as drivers had to stop before turning onto I-10 or before turning onto Alabama 181. Both backed up traffic and resulted in accidents, Gordon said.

The diverging diamond design allows traffic moving onto both of those roads to continue moving freely, resulting in less accidents.
In the years since the new intersection was built, daily usage has also increased significantly.

The Annual Average Daily Traffic report tallies the combined average of each day's traffic in both directions for the count station at milepost 17.9 north of the I-10 exchange counted 19,541 vehicles in 2018 and 23,754 vehicles in 2021 - a 21.6% increase in traffic.

The report for milepost 17.1, south of the I-10 exchange recorded 34,643 vehicles in 2018 and 35,858 vehicles in 2021 - a growth of 3.5% in three years.

Gordon said those increased traffic counts could result in a third lane being added to the intersection to help funnel those extra vehicles through faster.

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