I-70 crashes share distinction: distracted drivers

Indiana State Police and Putnam County emergency agencies responded July 27, 2017, to a collision of a pickup and a semitractor-trailer in the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 near the 46-mile marker. (Provided Photo/Indiana State Police)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO) — If you have driven on Interstate 70 in the last two weeks, you have likely been caught in traffic caused by an accident.

Wrecker crews have noticed the increase.

“There has been a lot of accidents. This time of year there is a lot of traffic, a lot of people going on vacation, and if there is one small incident on the interstate, it can cause miles of backup,” said Lee Edington, owner of Edington Wrecker Service in Terre Haute.

Indiana State Police and Putnam County emergency agencies responded July 27, 2017, to a collision of a pickup and a semitractor-trailer in the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 near the 46-mile marker. (Provided Photo/Indiana State Police)

State police said they have not crunched the numbers, but they know the number of crashes during the last two weeks on I-70 is far from average.

“I believe there is an increase in accidents,” said Sgt. Joe Watts of the Indiana State Police. “I have been doing this for 32 years, for example. It seems like the last two weeks have been like no other two weeks since I have been an Indiana State Police trooper.”

No two accidents are the same.

Some have been fatal, while others only caused minor damage and backed up traffic.

But almost all of them have one thing in common: distractions.

“The No. 1 reason these accidents are occurring is because drivers are distracted, drivers are fatigued, and drivers are simply not paying attention. So, again, it is not anything that law enforcement is doing, it is not anything that the common citizen driver is doing, and it is not anything INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) is doing,” Watts said.

State police said when distraction and heavily traveled construction zones are combined, it can be deadly.

It seems that we have seen a lot of semitractor-trailer accidents recently, but Watts said that is common. But not because it is necessarily the truckers’ fault.

“It is motorists in general. However, more attention is drawn to the commercial motor vehicles, the tractor-trailers, if you will, because they have been involved in our fatality crashes. They are a larger vehicle, they weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds, they cannot stop on a dime. But they draw more attention than another other vehicle,” Watts said.

In response to the increase in accidents, state police have stepped up patrols on all interstates, but especially I-70.

Hopefully they can resolve the issue before even more accidents occur.

Watts said that “again we are asking you to do your part, just get out there drive safe, be sober, buckle up, and pay attention at all times.”

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV