CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. -- The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is working to launch a new safety campaign aimed at U.S. 199, Redwood Highway.
Among those who travel and live along it, Highway 199 is a notoriously dangerous stretch of roadway.
The Illinois Valley Fire District serves a 25-mile stretch of the highway. The agency has seen 48 crashes requiring emergency response in that stretch since the beginning of the year — nearly two major crashes per mile of roadway.
Although the number of crashes was identical by this time last year — also 48 — the agency has seen some alarming differences.
“We don't investigate the accidents but we feel that they have been more severe — and that only comes from the speed. If you’re going 10 miles an hour and have an accident it’s not going to be as severe as if you’re going 75,” said Ned Booth, public information officer for Illinois Valley Fire.
ODOT says that since January first of 2019, there have been 190 crashes on Highway 199, including 5 fatalities since June first.
Although it is still taking shape, ODOT will be considering new safety signage, improved messaging, and some potential short-term engineering improvements to the roadway for their upcoming safety blitz on Highway 199. Meanwhile, engineers will be assessing the area while the agency mulls longer term solutions that could help save lives.
Still, ODOT has said, it isn't the roadway that is to blame — it's usually how people drive. Many of the worst crashes on Hwy 199 have been caused by some kind of driver error, or failing to follow the rules of the road. Drivers should stick to the posted speeds, keep a cautious following distance, and never drive distracted or intoxicated.
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