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Uptick in crashes on I-81 in the last week

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 8:26 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - There have been multiple crashes on interstate 81 over the past few days, including six tractor trailer involved accidents in the past week.

“Here in the valley we do have more truck traffic than some other areas of the country and when you have different levels of speed and different sizes of vehicles and you have those variables on the road that can contribute to some crashes,” said Sandy Myers, VDOT communications manager for the Staunton district.

So far this year there have already been 66 tractor trailer crashes on I-81 in Rockingham County and 71 in Augusta county, that’s according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. The crashes and congestion have caused problems for trucking companies. “We haul a lot of produce so everything is just in time, so yeah we’ve been held up by a few of the accidents,” said Rick Blizzard, owner of Blizzard Transportation in Harrisonburg.

One possible factor in the increase in tractor trailer crashes is the change in drivers due to a severe driver shortage in the trucking industry. “A lot of the men and women that are getting out in the workforce now in trucks are not as experienced as some of the seasoned veterans you’re used to,” said Blizzard.

Blizzard adds that motorists should be patient with truck drivers and remember how much longer it takes them to stop and slow down. He says he hopes truckers are included in the conversation when future projects on I-81 are considered.

As crashes and traffic issues on 81 continue, VDOT hopes the I-81 corridor improvements over the next several years will help fix the issue. “We did a series of studies on the interstate to find out what areas were more prone to crashes, delays, and then we focused our proposed projects on those areas,” said Sandy Myers.

You can learn more about the I-81 Corridor Improvement project here.

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