Traffic safety analysis inspires debate about the culprit (drivers or engineers?) on the least safe stretch of road in the Buckeye State.

2 minute read

September 29, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


I-71 I-70 Columbus OH

Headed for Cleveland by way of the most dangerous five-mile stretch of road in the state of Ohio. | Dailynetworks at English Wikipedia / I-71 I-70 Columbus OH

"An analysis of the latest federal fatal traffic crash data found that a portion of Interstate 71 in Columbus ranked as the deadliest 5-mile stretch of roadway in Ohio during a three-year period," reports Eric Lagatta.

Lagatta is sharing findings from analysis by MoneyGeek of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. The study analyzed "data on fatal crashes between 2017 and 2019 and found that 10 fatal crashes occurred on I-71 between 11th Avenue to the south and Morse Road to the north — the most for any 5-mile stretch in the state," explains Lagatta.

The Ohio Department of Transportation in August completed the "South Side Mega Fix" widening project on a seven-mile stretch of I-71 between Interstate-70 and Stringtown Road—located to the south of the five-mile stretch identified by the MoneyGeek analysis.

In a follow up article to the coverage by Lagatta, Theodore Decker put the study's findings to the test [paywall] by driving the stretch on a continuous loop in heaby rain, "exiting repeatedly at 11th Avenue on the south and Morse Road on the north, only to merge right back on the freeway and the loop over."

While Decker reports numerous bad driving behaviors, the article also sets up Ohio Department of Transportation officials with a case to widen the freeway, like it did to the south, to relieve bottlenecks and congestion. "On deadly stretch of I-71, the road may be getting a bad rap," reads the headline, and Decker assigns blame for the poor safety record of the freeway to drivers speeding and driving recklessly in poor weather conditions: "I-71 between 11th and Morse has its share of design problems, and ODOT needs to fix them. But the fact of the matter is this: The deaths on that stretch often were the result of individuals making bad choices. And those individuals were not the civil engineers."

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 in The Columbus Dispatch

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