At first glance, this industrial park intersection appears harmless.
It's sandwiched between an open field, an auto-parts business office and a Tim Hortons. Area workers pop by for a coffee, residents cut through to the Maples, and other traffic zips across Inkster Boulevard to get to major routes such as McPhillips and Keewatin streets.
But Manitoba Public Insurance data obtained through a freedom-of-information request reveals the corner of Inkster Boulevard and Sheppard Street has been the site of some of the most costly traffic injuries reported in Winnipeg during the last decade.
An internal MPI report shows that between June 2002 and June 2010, more than $6.4 million in traffic injuries were reported here -- that's nearly three times the total cost of collision injuries at the city's most accident-prone intersections, including Kenaston and McGillivray boulevards, and Leila Avenue and McPhillips Street.
On average, each of the 86 collisions reported at Inkster and Sheppard caused $74,658 in bodily injuries.
Higher bodily injury costs mean that severe -- or catastrophic -- crashes were reported at that intersection. MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said one major crash that kills or leaves someone with a severe brain injury can cost the public insurer millions.
The report also reveals Manitoba has one of highest rates of traffic-related injuries in Canada. It lists Winnipeg's 50 worst intersections for traffic injuries, which cost MPI nearly $90 million in total injury claims during an eight-year period.
MPI shares its findings with the City of Winnipeg, but to date, traffic engineers have not done a safety or engineering audit of Inkster and Sheppard -- or several other top intersections where costly injuries have been reported -- to see if any improvements are necessary.
"We would be overstepping our boundaries to say to the City of Winnipeg, 'Listen you need to do something here,' " said Smiley, who noted MPI's role is to educate drivers about how to reduce the likelihood of collisions.
City spokeswoman Tammy Melesko said engineers review intersections before capital projects -- such as major road upgrades to Kenaston Boulevard -- but a fatal or serious crash does not necessarily prompt a safety review. Earlier this year, Winnipeg public works staff told the Free Press they analyze collision data when concerns are raised. They also keep tabs on vehicle volume because intersections are likely to need improvements when more cars travel a particular route.
Officials from the city's public works department were unavailable to comment further on Thursday.
So far this year, 11 people have died on city streets, including a 55-year-old woman killed Wednesday night on Lagimodière Boulevard near the Concordia overpass. Another 88 have been killed on Manitoba highways.
Officials in Edmonton were able to identify $13 million in infrastructure improvements after they screened intersections using data that compared the cost of fatal accidents, injuries and damage at each location. Gerry Shimko, director of Edmonton's office of traffic safety, said the information helped determine which intersections saw the most frequent and most severe crashes.
From there, he said engineers examined the cause of collisions and found that a particular right-turn design contributed to many of the crashes.
In one case, Shimko said changing the right turn at an intersection reduced the number of collisions to zero from 100 every three years.
He said a one-time investment in better intersection design can save millions in other long-term collision costs.
"They contribute to an increase in taxes for the city, increase in insurance payments, workers' compensation and health care costs," Shimko said. "Nobody looks at those (and says), 'If you reduce injury collisions by 10 per cent how much less waiting time would there be (for) people going for elective surgery?' because they get bumped when people come in with injuries from a motor vehicle collision."
Smiley said he doesn't know why Manitoba has a higher rate of traffic-related injuries than other parts of the country, but it could be related to weather conditions. The report said injury collisions reported in December and January accounted for 22 per cent of all injury crashes reported between 2004 and 2009.
In June 2003, a 12-year-old boy was sent to hospital in critical condition with a head injury after a van struck him at Inkster and Sheppard. More recently, 19-year-old Melissa Ranville was killed in a hit-and-run while walking near the intersection in August 2009.