Between 2005 and 2008, there were 25 car accidents in the I-64 reversible lanes, according to the Virginian Pilot. There were four car wrecks in 2005, five in 2006, four in 2007, and 12 in 2008. You read that right, the number tripled in 2008. In addition, a number of these crashes involved wrong way drivers causing an accident while traveling in the wrong direction.
What is the cause of the sudden increase? Unfortunately, no one has a definitive answer. Howard Copeland, a former member of the House of Delegates and current resident of Norfolk, Virginia (VA), believes structural issues could be the culprit.
"It just seems to me that it’s a bad design," he said. "I’ve been driving stone sober and at a moderate speed, and it’s frightening."
These statistics come on the heels of a fatal car crash on the I-264 HOV interchange in December . Two people were killed and the at-fault driver was traveling the wrong way.
Should additional signs and alerts be added in an effort to decrease the incidences of wrong way drivers , or does the problem run deeper than that? Well, another startling statistic in the report shows the 30 barrier gates in the reversible lanes had to be repaired, maintained or replaced more than 70 times, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. This indicates they may have been hit or grazed by vehicles. There are 216 interstates nationwide with concurrent HOV lanes but only 27 highways in eight states with reversible HOV lanes, according to the Pilot article.
Despite the jump in HOV accidents, traffic safety experts don’t believe the reversible lanes need to be dramatically altered. I think a more cautious approach is warranted. We should review the 2009 numbers (once they’re released) to see if the high car crash numbers are becoming commonplace, or if 2008 was simply an aberration. If it turns out the number of car crashes remain abnormally high, officials should take a step back and look into ways in improving the design and set-up of the reversible HOV lanes.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.