An increase in Toll Road crashes has police urging drivers to pay attention in work zones
ELKHART COUNTY —
If you've driven on the toll road, you've noticed it, construction on the Toll Road. The closed lanes and work zones are not only an annoyance for some drivers, they can be a safety hazard if people don't take them seriously.
Indiana State Troopers have seen an increase in crashes in the past ten days. There's been three significant ones in work zones. Thursday night, 16 members of a Chinese tour group were taken to the hospital following a crash in Elkhart County. It involved 2 semis and their small passenger bus. To try and prevent more crashes like this, state troopers are warning everyone to pay attention in work zones.
Driving on the Toll Road, the highway can sometimes feel like it's stretching on forever, and we are all guilty of letting our mind veer in other directions.
"That can happen on the Interstate because you're going long distances and I think all of us have been there before, when we're driving and next thing we know we are like, 'Where did the last five miles go?'" said Ted Bohner, an Indiana State Trooper.
Trooper Bohner says distracted driving has always been an issue, but it's especially dangerous in work zones-- something that the Toll Road has no shortage of.
"Most of the crashes we've had have been basically like rear-end crashes or swerving at the last minute because people haven't seen that traffic is slowing," he said.
The three crashes in the past ten days have been near the Elkhart exit going westbound.
Bohner says on top of people not paying attention to signs, a big problem is multiple lane closure and multiple people racing to merge into one lane.
"I'll be in the lane that I'm supposed to be in, and then I'll have people flying by in an open lane in order to merge at the last second, and that creates it's own issue from a safety and also a possible road rage situation," Bohner said.
Officials from the Toll Road echoed his sentiment.
"We're seeing a lot more people stopping from rapid speeds and people speeding up in the left lane to cut in front of the cars that are in the right lane," said Dylan Souza from the Indiana Toll Road.
He says when it comes to issues, all roads lead to distracted driving.
"To send a text message, in the average time, you can travel as far as a football field without even realizing you're traveling as far as you are, especially when you're on the Toll Road going 70 to 80 miles an hour. It's rapid speed," said Souza.
While it seems like the construction has stretched on for awhile, the end of the road is near... Toll Road officials say all construction should be cleared and all lanes open by July 1st.