Interstate 81 in Virginia: Driving Into Danger?

Friday, August 7, 2009

The fear of driving on Interstate 81 in Virginia is real ["On Interstate 81, Fear Comes Along for the Ride," Metro, Aug. 1]. I have traveled this road for more than 40 years, and my fear has grown with each passing one. I have experienced this fear as a driver and as a mother, knowing that my daughters are driving it. The number of vehicles on this highway has increased substantially over the years. The accident statistics in this article were alarming. Where are the solutions?

The state never seems to have money for roads or mass transit. Thanks to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), there will soon be a daily train from Lynchburg to Washington, but this isn't enough. Virginia's voters and legislators need to stop the hand-wringing and act. My suggestion: Reduce the speed limit for trucks to 55 mph, or restrict trucks to the right lane and enforce it. Either of these would serve as a Band-Aid while other remedies are considered.


Locust Grove


It is important to note that most fatal car-truck crashes (70 to 80 percent, according to three studies) are caused by the car driver. But that is no comfort for anyone who has lost a loved one in a crash, or anyone who has been tailgated by a speeding or aggressive truck driver. We need to put an end to truck drivers' unlawful behavior, but we have to do the same for car drivers as well.

Even though truck crash rates, injury rates and death rates are at the lowest point since the Transportation Department began tracking those numbers in 1975, trucking companies are working hard to make the industry even safer. Our 18-point safety program advocates many new rules: requiring electronic speed governing of large trucks to 65 mph or less; increasing use of automated speed enforcement and red-light cameras; discouraging use of distractions such as cellphones; and notifying trucking companies when a driver is cited for violations. Accomplishing these and the other points in our program would save lives on I-81.


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