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Topic: Numbers Show I-81 State's Most Dangerous Road

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James B Wright
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Numbers Show I-81 State's Most Dangerous Road

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Numbers Show I-81 State's Most Dangerous Road

by Ed Smith

Death is not an infrequent visitor to Interstate 81 in Rockbridge County.



Six people have been killed on this stretch of interstate highway so far this year. Since 1990, 39 people have lost their lives along the 32 miles of four-lane hilly highway that cuts a swath through our county.


In a significant number of these fatalities — 19, or nearly half of the total — at least one of the vehicles involved was a tractor-trailer. Five of the six fatalities this year have involved tractor-trailers.


Between 1990 and 2001, there were 2,033 accidents on Interstate 81 in Rockbridge County. Tractor-trailers played a role in 481 of these accidents, or 24 percent.


With tractor-trailers now accounting for up to 40 percent of the traffic on I-81 in Rockbridge County — more than double what it was 30 years ago — is this section of I-81, statistically speaking, a more dangerous road to travel than other parts of the interstate highway system in Virginia?


Interstate 81, as a whole, does indeed appear to be more dangerous than the state's other interstate highways. As for the specific section in Rockbridge County, some years are decidedly worse than others.


For instance, over 15 percent of all the deaths on I-81 in Virginia in 1999 — five of 32 — came in Rockbridge County. While the number of I-81 deaths stood at 29 in 2000, there were actually no I-81 fatalities in Rockbridge County that year.


Over half of the fatalities thus far this year on what's come to be considered among the most deadly sections of I-81 — the portion between Wythe and Rockbridge counties — occurred on our end of this stretch, in Rockbridge County.


In the past two years I-81 has had a much higher death rate than its two most comparable counterparts in the state, Interstates 95 and 64.


The 29 people killed on I-81 in 2000 translates to a rate of .65 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles driven. The numbers that year for I-95 and I-64 were, respectively, 24 and 21 fatalities, for death rates of .44 and .47. In 1999, there were 32 fatalities on I-81 for a death rate of .72. In 1999 on I-95 and I-64, there were 20 and 17 fatalities for death rates of .36 and .37.


The state's only interstate that had a higher death rate than I-81 both of these years was Interstate 77, but this highway covers a much shorter distance with far fewer miles traveled. Interstate 66 had a higher death rate in one of those years, but this road also covers a much shorter distance and represents many fewer miles traveled. Smaller numbers are more likely to fluctuate from year to year and therefore are not as significant from a statistical point of view.


The death rate on I-81 easily eclipses that of I-95, despite the fact that I-95 has a lot more traffic. Over 15 million daily vehicle miles are recorded along the 178-mile distance of I-95, compared to 12 million-plus daily vehicle miles on all of I-81 in Virginia, which covers 325 miles. The daily vehicle counts on I-81 vary, depending upon what part of the state you're in, from 29,000 to 66,000. The daily vehicle counts on I-95 range from as little as 21,000 in rural southside to as much as 236,000 in urban Northern Virginia.


The traffic volume on I-81 in Rockbridge County continues to climb steadily upward, with tractor-trailers accounting for much of the increase. In 1997, the daily vehicle count was between 32,000 and 34,000. Tractor-trailers accounted for between 19 and 33 percent of the traffic that year. By 2001, the daily vehicle count had risen to as high as 40,000, with tractor-trailers making up 36 to 39 percent of the total.


When I-81 in Rockbridge County was built in the 1960s, tractor-trailer traffic accounted for just 15 percent of the total volume — a far cry from what it does today. It's not surprising that the increase in tractor-trailer traffic has been matched by a corresponding rise in the number of fatal crashes in which these huge vehicles are involved.


As traffic has become more congested, and as an increase in conflicts between vehicles of such disproportionate size has ensued, deadly collisions seem to be the inevitable result.


http://www.thenews-gazette.com/I-81/highway03.asp



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Jim
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Sir ,

If you look who is a fault between cars and tractor trailers, it is usually the car that is at fault, not always but usually. And keep in mind that the food you eat, the car you drive, and the gas you use would not be at the stores if trucks were not on the road.

Society has us pegged as all bad people and that's not true. Just like car drivers there are a few bad truck drivers. But everyday I have at least one car cut me off or tailgate me. But please look at both sides of the picture before you judge.

Thanks
Jim

This is one of my good buddies that was going to fast.



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Keith French Sr
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 You are quick to quote all kinds of numbers and statistics about trucks but I notice you never say how many of these trucks caused the accidents.You don't say how many times some 4 wheeler has caused an innocent truck driver going along doing his job minding his own business to be in harms way. Endangering his life and the lives of others. Or how only by quick reflexes he saved the life of some idiot who wanted to do something stupid.you know after 20 yrs and 3 million miles I am getting really tired of being your babysitter. Maybe before blaming everything on trucks you ought to do some self examination.

1. Trucks should NOT Speed.

2. Trucks should NOT Tailgate.

3. Trucks should NOT Drive in Groups Close Together.

4. Trucks should SLOW way down in Bad Weather.



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JC
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If the rail was brought back I'd feel a lot safer with my loved ones on the road, but until they have every road in the nation going over the tracks via bridge/overpass that will never happen.

Truck Drivers please stay away from my family. Get off my rear, you jerks...



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Kimberly
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I have also had problems with truckers on I-81 lately.  I was almost run off the road 2 times in one week.  Whenever I have to pass in the left lane the truckers seem to just come over without checking to see if someone is already passing. Its enough to scare you half to death.  I have to slam my breaks on just to keep them from side swiping me into the median.


I was also in the middle of a high speed chase near the rest stop near New Market on 81.  State Police stopped all traffic at the rest stop.  I was sitting there wondering what was going on.  From no where a Ninja type motorcycle was in the emergency lane going I would guess about 100 miles an hour or more and behind him came a total of 9 State troopers & Undercover Police officers going the same rate of speed.  I think that was very dangerous because some people like to go into the emergency lanes to get to the nearest exit so they dont have to wait (which isnt legal of course).  There are some people that get out of their cars to look.  I dont think it is necessary for all those Troopers to rish their lives and risk others lives for one motorcyclist that wants to just speed and be rebellious.  Do you?


 



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dave
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i live in verona, work in hburg. i could take 20 miles of I81, but i choose to spend more time and take rt11. heres why: since i moved here in MAY 2006, i have...

1: sat in traffice 4 times (once making me late for work by 2 hrs because they closed 81, and one other time it took me 3hrs to get home...remember, 20 miles) because truckers have either run off the road, collided with other truckers or cars, or flipped.

2: been run off the road into the median once by a trucker who changed lanes without looking.

3: been inbetween 2 truckers driving like idiots and forcing me to slam on brakes on 81 to avoid being crushed by them

...and just YESTERDAY i took 81 because i needed to get to work very quick and i got behind 2 miles of congested traffic...now i thought there was another wreck, but it ended up being to truckls driving SIDE BY SIDE, not passing one another, and going 45mph.


So tell me something doesn't need to be done? I81 sucks. take rt. 11

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dave (again)
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one more thing...

its the VA tax payers who PAY for 81 upkeep and improvements, not the truckers from other states that pass through and make it dangerous for those who live here.

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Harry
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I-81 State's Most Dangerous Road

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I say lets get a group of us cars and drive at 70 mph and video some of these truck tail gate us cars. We can call the police and give the truck divers plate number and location and demand that they pull this truck over and whole group of us show up at traffic court.



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TJ
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RE: Numbers Show I-81 State's Most Dangerous Road

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<<Just like car drivers there are a few bad truck drivers >>


Same old line,"Just a few bad apples". NOT!!


Folks only see news stories about large truck wrecks in their area. What most don't see are the hundreds of truck wrecks that happen everyday across the country. If they did they wouldn't buy in on the "Only a few bad apples" lie. Here's a place that tells the real story.


http://www.ragbagtruckers.com/



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Anonymous
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thats where you are wrong trucking companies pay for milage run in every state they travel to the tune of about $20,000 a year per truck so just because they aren't registered in your state doesn't mean they don't pay taxes in Va.

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Anonymous
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I think  bad truck drivers should be put in jail.....Thanks! Now for some coffee and a newspaper.....P.S. Long live corporate America, "Never Enough"



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Anonymous
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A lot of truckers are idiots

I just want them to leave me alone on the road!

Sometimes I pray that they kill themselves before they kill me and my family.

Truck drivers who drive like teens is like giving a loaded gun to an idiot.

 

 



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