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Murray has No. 1 risky crossroad

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The intersection of 5300 South and State is the most accident-prone in Salt Lake County, the Deseret Morning News found in a new survey.

A total of 63 accidents were reported at that intersection in 2003. That's more than the projected total of 60 at 7200 South and 700 West and the 55 reported at 3500 South and 5600 West in 2003.

The rankings were based on data compiled by nine police agencies within the county for 2003. The exception is Midvale, which had statistics available only for the first four months of 2004.

Murray had two of the top five intersections. The intersection of 4500 S. State had 53 accidents in 2003, fourth-most in the valley.

Murray police detective Rob Hall said he's not overly surprised at the number of accidents at the 5300 South intersection simply because of all the traffic in that area. The intersection is busy at all hours of the day, not just during the morning and afternoon commutes, he said.

Not only is it in the heart of the valley, but business is booming on every corner, Hall said. A new strip mall with restaurants was recently built on one end. Across the street, Costco Wholesale recently opened a giant store. Murray High School is located just a half block away on another corner. And just down the road on State Street is a line of car dealerships.

"The sheer volume is going to give you more accidents," he said. "It's an access to a lot of places."

Bob Phillips works at 1st Choice Quick Lube Oil, which sits on the southwest corner of the intersection. He said State Street at 5300 South is a busy road and drivers simply don't pay attention.

"People are not watching. They're all in a hurry," he said.

Improper lookout from cars turning left is a big cause of accidents, Phillips said. Running red lights is another. The other cause of accidents is driver inattention. Phillips said he sees a lot of fender benders, especially from cars traveling north on State Street.

Phillips said Quick Lube employees have to be on their toes when leaving work because other drivers aren't watching for them.

The volume of cars is expected to increase even more in the future after the new IHC hospital is completed, he said.

Even though the number of accidents is high at 5300 S. State, most of them are minor fender benders. Only 17 of the 63 accidents there resulted in injury, Hall said.

"We don't experience a lot of violent crashes," he said.

The second-most accident-prone intersection was estimated by the Deseret Morning News to be 7200 South and 700 West just off I-15. The final statistics were only an approximation because statistics were available only for the first four months of 2004. There were 20 accidents at 7200 South and 700 West from Jan. 1 to April 30 of this year.

Midvale Police Sgt. Ken Jarvis said he wasn't sure if that intersection would end the year with 60 accidents, but he noted it certainly had experienced a big increase in traffic, especially during the afternoon commute.

The backup for the southbound lanes of I-15 begins around 7200 South, prompting a lot of motorists to exit the freeway, he said.

"The backup is standard on the freeway every day," he said. "We're noticing more accidents."

Likewise, the intersection of 3500 South and 5600 West appears to be the victim of growth and an ever-increasing volume of traffic. The intersection had 55 reported accidents in 2003, third-most in Salt Lake County.

"It's got a lot of volume," said West Valley Assistant Police Chief Craig Gibson. "We are working that aggressively."

Like Murray, the area around that intersection is seeing new businesses emerge. Additionally, it connects two of the valley's major arteries. The intersection gets a lot of fender-benders especially during the morning and afternoon commute, Gibson said.

West Valley's second-most accident-prone intersection was also on 5600 West, at 4100 South with 41 accidents last year.

Salt Lake City's worst intersection for accidents, North Temple and Redwood Road, came in fifth for the county with 42.

The Salt Lake County Sheriff's office's worst intersections were both on Fort Union Blvd. The intersection at 1300 East had 39 accidents in 2003, while the intersection at 2000 East had 36, according to the sheriff's office.

The intersection with the most accidents in Sandy was 9000 South under the freeway near 300 West. It averages 33 accidents per year, according to Sandy police. Five of the top seven intersections for accidents in Sandy were on 9000 South.

Likewise, West Jordan's top two intersections for accidents in 2003 were on 9000 South. There were 32 accidents at Bangerter Highway and 30 at Redwood Road, according to West Jordan police.

South Salt Lake had 23 reported accidents at 3300 S. State in 2003. South Jordan's top intersection for accidents was 10400 South and the Bangerter Highway with 20.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com