New ‘No Turn On Red’ Sign Going Up, Will it Help?

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The corner of I-235 east bound and MLK Jr. Parkway is one of the most dangerous intersections in Des Moines, as accidents there keep piling up. 

Fortunately for commuters, the City of Des Moines and the DOT are working on a plan to make it safer. On September 26th, drivers will no longer be able to take a right turn at the red light off the I-235 eastbound ramp. To police this, a camera has also been installed to catch any impatient drivers. 

The goal for the DOT and the city is reduce the number of T-bone accidents at this busy intersection. Since last year, 25  have been reported. 

But will adding one "No Turn on Red" sign even make much of a difference? Channel 13 tracked down an expert who might know. 

Jim Dickinson is the traffic engineer for the City of West Des Moines. The DOT installed the "No Turn on Red" signs at two of the city's busiest intersections about five years ago at I-235 and Valley West and again at I-235 and 50th. 

Dickinson says 50,000 combined cars travel through those intersections each day, but in three years there have been no T-bone accidents and only 13 rear-end crashes. He knows they're not coming down, but if they did, his life would be easier.

“In our case, we didn’t have a safety issue before. I think it would help the intersection as far as capacity-wise, help to operate,” said Dickinson.

Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department has almost the same thoughts. He is unsure how it will affect traffic times, but safety-wise he thinks this will help, although it may produce more rear-end crashes as more people will be stopping and waiting to turn. 

“A rear-end collision, we don’t want to have any of them, but it’s a heck of a lot less severe than a t-bone collision,” said Sgt. Parizek. 

Drivers can expect to see fewer serious crashes, but the trade-off may be an increase in minor fender benders.