Increased traffic causes safety concerns on U.S. 20

U.S. 20 // WSBT 22 photo

It has been just three weeks since the E-Z Pass rate hike on the Indiana Toll Road went into effect. But drivers, businesses owners and police officers who travel U.S. 20 are already noticing a boost in traffic.

Within just the last few weeks officers are spotting more out-of-state plates.

Many of those drivers are likely trying to avoid construction slow downs, as well as paying a big toll on 80/90.

People WSBT 22 spoke with say there are now a lot more trucks and cars driving along U.S. 20. Many are concerned with their safety on the roadway.

"For the residents around this area it's getting really scary,” Gail Dailey told us.

Dailey works at Rolling Prairie United Methodist Church, just off U.S. 20. She says it sometimes takes her 10 minutes to pull out of the lot and onto the road.

"More cars. I mean, there's been trucks and trucks but there's definitely an increase in cars also in the last couple weeks."

For Family Express Store Manager Rod Krassow, the uptick in traffic along U.S. 20 means business is good. But his own commute to work is less than convenient.

"The traffic is horrendous, to say the least," he told WSBT 22. "A lot of speeding, a lot of semi speeding and definitely distracted driving -- texting on their cellphones."

"The truck traffic, the car traffic, it's constant," said Captain Michael Kellems with the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office.

LaPorte County Police are working to address that volume by enforcing traffic laws.

"We've increased our efforts to try and slow people down, but slowing people down isn't the only thing we are worried about right now,” said Kellems. “We are worried about distracted driving. That's probably the biggest area of concern for us."

Captain Kellems says it's crucial drivers get rid of those distraction -- like eating or using your cellphone.

The best way to stay safe is to follow the traffic laws.

“There's no one thing that causes our increase in traffic,” said Kellems. “We just have it. And so in order to deal with it, it means we all got to get along a little bit better. We've all got to take a little bit more time in our driving. We've got to spend a little bit more, in fact a lot more time being focused on our driving."

"LaPorte County Police and Indiana State Police have been very active in the area and I appreciate that and I welcome more of it," said Krassow.

Other efforts to deal with this traffic increase include more patrol units on LaPorte County streets during the afternoon shift for traffic enforcement. Soon the Sheriff's Office will hire an extra deputy to do nothing but truck enforcement.

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