By: Jon Wilcox
Data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) show the intersection of Interstate Highway 35 (IH-35) and Highway 123 to be the most dangerous in San Marcos.
From January 2014 to February, the intersection was the site of 82 total crashes, including two fatal accidents and eight with incapacitating injuries, according to TxDOT data.
Two datasets, one from January 2010 to February and the other from January 2014 to February, verified the intersection has the highest number of deadly and incapacitating collisions in San Marcos.
Heavy traffic congestion, wide street clearance and the number of entrances and exits on Highway 123 have likely contributed to the frequency of fatalities and serious injuries, said Ning Zou, San Marcos transportation engineering manager.
TxDOT makes a distinction between the South Guadalupe Street side of the intersection and Highway 123.
Data from the IH-35 and South Guadalupe Street intersection show zero fatalities and incapacitating injuries and four crashes from January 2010 to February.
Zou believes Highway 123 may be the key factor in the number of fatalities and serious injuries at the intersection. Traffic congestion on Highway 123 has likely influenced the number of accidents.
“During peak hours and because the capacity of the road is limited with a huge demand (created by rush hour traffic), people can lose their patience,” Zou said.
Drivers can use simple practices to travel more safely in high-traffic areas, said Thomas Perez, instructor at the San Marcos Driving School.
Maintaining a safe distance between cars, following the speed limit and paying attention to one’s surroundings can prevent crashes, he said.
Perez said San Marcos officials have not passed an ordinance prohibiting texting while driving, which may contribute to traffic-related injuries.
The intersection at IH-35 and Highway 82 (Aquarena Springs Drive) had the highest number of crashes but fewer fatalities and incapacitating injuries from January 2010 to February, according to TxDot data.
The narrow width of Aquarena Springs Drive may prevent motorists from speeding, leading to a lower likelihood of death and serious injury, Zou said.
Bushes, curbs and small shoulders on the side of Aquarena Springs Drive make the road feel smaller, he said. Drivers are less inclined to speed, which creates safer road conditions.
Zou pointed out another intersection to demonstrate the dangers along Highway 123.
The nearby Farm to Market Road 621 and Highway 123 intersection experienced two fatalities from January 2010 to February, according to TxDOT data.
Some complaints about the area are related to drivers trying to enter and exit the Squinta Caporeos grocery store on Highway 123, Zou said.
The Squinta Caporeos grocery store is adjacent to the FM 621 and Highway 123 intersection.
The surplus of exits and entrances from parking lots and businesses has likely contributed to dangerous driving conditions along Highway 123 near the grocery store, Zou said.
He said the wide shoulders at that portion of the highway encourage drivers to speed, which increases danger.
“You can turn left, turn right, turn left in, turn right in, turn right out, turn right in, and the accidents could be caused by the driveway traffic,” Zou said. “I suspect that’s the main reason.”