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New I-95 Highway Safety Corridor Launched

January 07, 2005

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) along with the Virginia State Police and the Department of Motor Vehicles is driving home the safety message on one of Virginia’s most crash-prone stretches of interstate. Beginning Jan. 6, a 13-mile stretch of Interstate 95 between mile marker 70 near Bells Road in Richmond and mile marker 83 near Parham Road in Henrico County will be designated as Virginia’s second Highway Safety Corridor.

This 13-mile segment comprises 7.3 percent of I-95 but it experienced 14.5 percent of all I-95 crashes between 2000 and 2002.

The Highway Safety Corridor designation brings a coordinated public outreach and enforcement effort from these state agencies, and for the 140,000 motorists who pass through this area each day, it brings the threat of fines up to $2,500 for violating traffic laws in the designated area.

The 2003 General Assembly passed legislation paving the way for a Highway Safety Corridor program to improve safety on interstate and primary roads (routes numbered 1 through 599). In areas designated as Highway Safety Corridors, fines for speeding tickets are increased up to $500 and fines for criminal offenses such as reckless driving or driving under the influence could cost as much as $2,500.

The first Highway Safety Corridor designation was a 15-mile section in Interstate 81 posted in early 2004, from mile marker 127 near Ironto in Montgomery County to mile marker 142 near Salem in Roanoke County. Since the corridor was designated last year there has been a 30 percent reduction in crashes, down from a peak of 204 crashes in 2003. Crashes resulting in injuries declined about 60 percent. When compared to the average of the previous four years, total crashes are down 15 percent and injury crashes are down about 49 percent in the I-81 Highway Safety Corridor.

“We had great success with the first Highway Safety Corridor designation on I-81 last year and we hope to have a similar impact on the safety of motorists traveling I-95 through the Richmond area.” said Stephen Read, VDOT’s Highway Safety Corridor program manager. “VDOT held a public hearing Oct. 7 to solicit public input on this corridor and comments were overwhelmingly positive. Many believed we should even increase the length of the region selected.”

A section of interstate can be designated as a Highway Safety Corridor after a detailed traffic engineering study and a public input period. Sites are selected after an analysis of:

VDOT and the Department of Motor Vehicles will use federal safety grants to fund a radio and billboard advertising campaign to raise awareness of this designation in Richmond. VDOT has also installed 19 signs throughout the corridor to notify motorists about this designation. The Virginia State Police have also committed additional enforcement efforts in this corridor to ensure that drivers get the message.

“We see too many crashes every day involving inattention, erratic behavior and speed,” said Virginia State Police Superintendent, Colonel W. Steve Flaherty. “This designation will hopefully raise awareness of the need for drivers to take safety into their own hands. The increased fines associated with this Highway Safety Corridor will give troopers another tool in making sure everyone obeys traffic laws and puts safety above all else when getting behind the wheel.”

Future Highway Safety Corridors are planned for I-95 in Northern Virginia this spring and are possible on I-64 in the Richmond and Hampton Roads regions at a later date. Additional interstate and primary road designations may follow.

For more information about the Highway Safety Corridor program, visit www.VirginiaDOT.org.

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