nvdaily.com link to home page

Traffic | Weather | Mobile Edition
Archives | Subscribe


Local News arrow Traffic & Transportation arrow Weather

| 0 | 9 Comments

VDOT official cites weather, speed as Tuesday crash factors

I-81Crash5W_6_12_12.jpg
View larger image

Shenandoah County Sheriff's Deputy Kolter Stroop stands along the scene of this tractor trailer crash where the tractor went over the Cedar Creek bridge near Strasburg Tuesday afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily


By Joe Beck
jbeck@nvdaily.com
Rain and drivers traveling too fast for conditions were major factors in the massive and deadly traffic congestion that plagued interstate highways in Shenandoah and Warren counties Tuesday afternoon, a top state transportation official said Thursday.

Ricky Via, the Virginia Department of Transportation's regional traffic operations manager the Staunton-Culpeper region, said the chaos and danger that reigned on the roads had the attention of his agency.

"It seemed like a very dynamic, unique situation, and I think weather was a significant factor," Via said.

Via said thunderstorms rolling through the skies cut visibility and made pavement slippery. In the meantime, he said, some drivers failed to adjust to the changing conditions, thus contributing to the rash of crashes in which one driver died, several others received minor injuries and thousands were left idling in frustration while police, fire and rescue crews worked to clear the scenes.

One crash appeared to contribute to others in rapid succession. The most tragic example was a fatality on the westbound lane of I-66 about halfway between Front Royal and the split between I-66 and I-81. Thomas Edward Mitchell, 59, of Great Cacapo, W.Va. died at about 6:30 p.m. when his car ran into the back of a tractor-trailer, state police said.

State police said the tractor-trailer was at the end of a long line traffic bogged down from the earlier crashes.

The first two major crashes of the afternoon were also linked. State police said a crash just south of a bridge over Cedar Creek slowed southbound traffic on I-81 and led to a tractor-trailer striking the rear of two other tractor-trailers. The tractor-trailer that struck the vehicles ahead of it veered up and over a guardrail and ended up with its cab hanging over the side of the bridge.

The driver of the tractor-trailer that went over the guardrail received a ticket for following too closely, state police said.

He said a follow-up meeting is planned by VDOT and any interested first responders from agencies in the affected area to review what happened and consider whether additional steps are needed.

The crashes were concentrated within a few miles north and south and east of the split between I-66 and I-81 near Strasburg.

VDOT has studied the area before in response to safety worries and initiated several projects designed to reduce the risk of accidents, said Donald Logan, acting area traffic engineer.

Logan said the agency responded to increased traffic safety concerns by launching several improvement projects. Some have been completed and others continue today.
They include: widening lines marking the edge of the pavement from six inches to eight inches to increase visibility; replacing markers designed to be illuminated by approaching headlights at nighttime; replacing deficient guardrails; and installing rumble strips.




9 Comments



Roadway safety/visibility improvements will make little difference in addressing the root of the problem which is drivers not looking/anticapating ahead visually and allowing sufficient time and space to perceive, and react to ever changing traffic dynamics, weather and road conditions regardless of what speeds they're at.

Today there is a casual disregard for the safety of others on the road. Too many people believe they have absolute control over a vehicle. I've seen cars following so close, they look like they are connected.

I avoid these interstates as much as possible: they are overcrowded with too many trucks and irresponsible drivers. I keep my distance and try to keep an eye out for possible problems. It should be the only thing one is doing behind the wheel.

And yes, I consider myself a good driver since I follow the rules of the road and don't take risk that will endangered others or myself. As one person said, "It's like playing Russian roulette" every time you get on these roads. Indeed it is. . .

Driving any vehicle requires absolute focus and until the laws start cracking down, these wrecks will continue. If you are conducting yourself in a responsible manner, then you already know the dangers of speed etc. If you are not - then consider me "preaching". We ALL share the roads and safety should be of concern to everyone.

I BELIEVE THAT INCREASED VISIBLE STATE POLICE PRESENCE WILL HELP. IF YOU LOOK AT OTHER AREAS OF THE INTERSTATE SYSTEM YOU WILL AGREE THAT THIS AREA IS IGNORED. THEY SHOULD BE SITTING IN THE AREA OF I66, I81 NEAR 66 AND I81 NEAR 50, ALSO MORE IMPORTANTLY I81 NEAR THE WV LINE SOUTH BOUND. WHEN YOU INCREASE PRESENCE YOU SEND A MESSAGE. WHEN YOU START PULLING OVER EVERYONE WHO IS BREAKING THE LAW YOU START SENDING A MESSAGE. PEOPLE WILL START BEING MORE CAREFULL AND MAYBE WE CAN ALL LIVE ANOTHER DAY. THIS IS THE JOB OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND WE ARE BEING IGNORED CLEARLY. IN 13 YEARS OF LIVING IN THIS AREA I81 HAS BEEN A LAWLESS REGION. IF YOU GO FURTHER SOUTH YOU WILL SEE A PRESENCE QUITE OFTEN WHICH IS SAVING LIVES. IF PEOPLE ARE RECKLESS AND SPEEDING PULLEM' OVER WHAT IS SO COMPLICATED ABOUT THAT. START WRITING TICKETS LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO AND IT WILL PAY FOR IT'S SELF. THANKS

I drive 66 and 81 everyday. The only time I see police are around Gainesville and on further East in the morning..trying to catch people unlawfully using the HOV lane..guess where they are needed??Starting at the beginning of 66 East and 66 West after Gainesville in the evenings. I get on 66 East in the morning around 6..as soon as the two lanes come together people are vying for space in that left lane..they cant wait to jump up to 80 mph. Same thing after Gainesville in the evening 66 Westbound. Ill tell you realisticallyif you drive 70 to 75 mph you better stay in the right lane only..Ive had people flash there lights at me to move over, have had the horn blown, etc etc..Im expecting a baby and am terrified everyday. Tuesday I was able to leave my job in Fairfax around 1 as my son had doctors appts in Winchester. It was raining steady and even though traffic was moving smoothly I observed several people driving 75 or better before Gainesville..speed limits before Gainesville fluctuate between 55 and 65..there was no police presence..I am not one bit surprised of TGuesday's horrible accidents..people do not pay attention, do not adjust speed due to weather, do not obey speed limits in the first place weather or not. I dont know if more police presence can correct common sense??

Your post struck me, it is true – best to stay in the right lane, (I have been flashed in this lane too)– I did a test one week, I put the car in cruise on 70 mph – ALL the way to Markham Exit. (from exit 55 Fairfax) (I carpool) I arrived home within 5 minutes (later) than I would normally. I knew someone who was killed recently (driving too fast) This got my attention.
As for the Police – what a joke! They drive faster than anyone else, especially the ‘unmarked’ take home cars… When the speed limit goes down to 55 mph on hwy 66 – NO one really slows down – you will get killed driving 55
I should not get flashed, honked at or given the middle finger because I am doing the speed limit! On those occasions that I do drive in the left lane, and I look and see I am doing 75 – 80 and some donkey is behind me flashing me – It just makes me mad!

I got back on here to read comments. Every one of you are absolutely correct. I've had the angry driver behind me too and I'm in the RIGHT lane doing the correct speed!

Sloppy drivers! Brainless jerks who will risk everybody's life with this careless conduct. People NEED to have their driver's license taken for a year! Let them get the old thumb out instead of that other finger. ; }

What a relief to hear from people who really care to discuss the problems instead of a one line grunt.

HAVE A SAFE WEEKEND - Y'ALL.

I agree with you police presence might help. I drive 81 and 66 to work everyday and recently I have seen state police on 66 but I can honestly say I have not seen them on 81, but I am only on 81 a few miles. I have been driving this route to Front Royal for 6 years now. I always thank God when I make it to 66.It is not as bad as 81.There is a lot more traffic on 81. I wish they would put the speed limit back and have tougher laws,speeding once a huge fine twice take their lisence. Then maybe people would respect the roads and others on them.

Oh, here we go again the holier than thou are out speaking. I do agree the weather conditions are a factor on our roads and you should proceed with caution. But for those of you who cannot read "slower traffice stay right" well you should get the lights etc... I consider myself to be a safe driver but I do like to just stay at 79mph and those of you who just idle in the left lane are as dangerous as the weather. If you don't want to do over 75 mph then stay in the right lane and if you venture out of the right lane then pass the car and move back over. Don't go to Europe and drive you cannot get away with that bull over there. Stay safe, off the phone and keep your eyes ahead of you.

I remember when top speed on any Interstate was 55. It's statisically proven that the faster the speed limit, the more accidents (and fatalities) there are. Not saying we should go back to that - don't think people would obey it anyway. However, there really is no pat answer for this, except drive as carefully as you can. Don't "hog" the left lane, trying to keep other people from driving faster. That is just as dangerous as those who drive too fast. Also statistically, the incidence of accidents rises with more cars on the road, and there isn't anything we can do about that. I've been driving for over 50 years, and there have ALWAYS been accidents. They aren't going to go away.



Leave a comment

What do you think?

(You may use HTML tags for style)

Comments

Comments that are posted on nvdaily.com represent the opinion of the commenter and not the Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com. If you feel that a comment is objectionable, please click on the Report Abuse link above and in your e-mail to us include the comment. We will review the reported comment and make a decision on deleting it if we feel that it contains inappropriate content.












top-jobs-logo.jpg

Look Who 'Likes' nvdaily!



Daily readers: Click the "LIKE" button above to get Daily news and breaking news alerts on your Facebook page.

Activity & Recommendations

Local News Sections

Agency on Aging Agriculture AP Wire Features Apple Blossom Festival Aviation Basye Berryville Bob Wooten Boyce Breaking News Briefs Business Charities Charles Pannunzio Civil War Clarke County Colleges Corrections Courthouse Notes: Permits, Transactions Courts & Legal News Crime & Public Safety Economy and Jobs Edinburg Education Edward N. Bell Election 2012 Entertainment Environment Fairs & Festivals Fire & Rescue Fort Valley Frederick County Front Royal George Washington National Forest Guest Column Hard Times Health History Homes In The Spotlight Ledger Livestock Local Markets Maurertown Media Middletown Military & Veterans Moms Mt. Jackson New Market Page County Pets & Animals Politics Quicksburg Religion RSW Jail School News Shenandoah County Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department Star Tannery State Stephens City Strasburg Toms Brook Traffic & Transportation Utilities Warren County Weather West Virginia Winchester Woodstock Year in Review




News | Sports | Business | Lifestyle | Obituaries | Opinion | Multimedia| Entertainment | Homes | Classifieds
Contact Us | NIE | Place a Classified | Privacy Policy | Subscribe

Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily | nvdaily.com | 152 N. Holliday St., Strasburg, Va. 22657 | (800) 296-5137

nvdaily.com
Best Small Daily Newspaper in Virginia!


nvdaily.com | seeshenandoah.com