Ohio State Highway Patrol: I-70, I-470 Safety Corridor Has a Positive Impact | News, Sports, Jobs

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Lt. Maurice Waddell, commanding officer of OSHP St. Clairsville Post, and Lauren Borell, spokesperson for District 11 for the Ohio Department of Transportation, pose for a photo next to a sign displaying various statistics during the past year of Belmont County’s distracted driving safety corridor. (Photo by Carri Graham)

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation celebrated the first anniversary of the distracted drive lane in Belmont County, which officials say has had a positive impact on drivers. roads.

Since the launch of the safety corridor in August 2020 along highways 70 and 470, the number of accidents and fatalities has decreased along these sections of road. According to OSHP statistics, there was a 13% decrease in injuries and fatalities from August 14, 2020 to July 31, 2021 compared to the previous year, and a 42% decrease compared to statistics from 2018 and 2019.

As part of the celebration, OSHP and ODOT hosted an information event on Wednesday morning with the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust to highlight the corridor’s success and provide resources on safe driving. The event took place at the I-70 Westbound Rest Area near Belmont. Lt. Maurice Waddell, commanding officer of OSHP St. Clairsville Post, said they wanted to recognize the corridor’s positive impact on motorists and roads.

“These signs appear to have caught the attention of drivers, as well as our law enforcement efforts. Crashes have been reduced and we haven’t had any fatalities in the distracted driving lane since it started, so that’s a good thing, ”he said. “We are the only part of the state that has these signs. As soon as people see them it draws their attention to the fact that there is a strict enforcement which helps to make motorists traveling in the area aware that distracted driving is an issue and we are working in this area to make sure no one is driving distracted.

Waddell said he hoped to continue the downward trend in crashes and injuries along the highway, which stretches a total of 27 miles, including 20 miles of I-70 from mile marker 205 to the Ohio / West Virginia state line and 7 miles from I -470.

“The dangers of distracted driving are obvious to everyone, but motorists always choose to participate in this dangerous behavior,” he said. “This corridor and our partnership with ODOT continue to raise awareness, educate and enforce the issue of distracted driving.”

OSHP has issued 38 distracted driving tickets since the launch of the corridor and initiated more than 3,300 enforcement checks within the area.

Lauren Borell, spokesperson for ODOT 11, said the statistics speak for themselves. She said there had been a significant overall improvement in road safety in the corridor. She urges residents to eliminate distractions and focus on the road when driving, whether in the hallway or on a township road.

Starting Sunday, a resurfacing project will take place along 13 miles of I-70 in the hallway. The work will take place from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and will result in one-lane restrictions. Waddell said they want motorists to be aware of impending roadworks so people stop distractions. He said there would be workers in the area, and he urges motorists to be careful.

Linda Cook from Barnesville was also present at the event to help raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. In 2017, Cook’s husband, Steve, was killed by a distracted driver as he paved a road in a construction area just west of Columbus. She said Steve got out of a paver he was in just as a car raced through the construction area and hit him. He was killed instantly.

Since then, Cook has dedicated his life to helping prevent these kinds of accidents.

“It is very important for me to attend these events and let people know to slow down and save a life, to respect the big highway construction workers and to be a safer driver,” he said. she declared.

Cook said she was working to make laws tougher for people who drive distractedly in work areas.

“They are human beings doing their jobs and they want to go home to their families at the end of the day. People don’t take it seriously. I just want to make them safer and try to save another life, which is my mission, ”she said.

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