13 crashes so far this year on East Side Highway, DMV reports

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 5:36 PM EDT
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DOOMS, Va. (WHSV) - Route 340 runs from Greenville, VA, to Frederick, MD, and is the site of increasing crashes in the last two years.

Part of the route is East Side Highway, which takes you from Waynesboro to Grottoes, and many know it to be a very dangerous area.

“It is beautiful out here. It is wonderful out here. The community is slow-paced, which is wonderful, phenomenal, that’s why people love it, but the roads are not slow-paced,” said Senior Pastor of Wayside Baptist Church Levi Smith.

Smith said speed, blind intersections and hidden driveways all play a role in what makes the road so dangerous.

“When we get out of church, we’ll have a whole line of cars here but they can’t get out because it’s so fast. There’s a lot of foliage and brush here at the corner, so you kind of have to creep out and look down that way,” he said.

In 2017, the DMV recorded three crashes on East Side Highway. For the next three years, that number stayed steady, until 2021 when there were 11 crashes.

So far in 2022, the DMV has reported 13 crashes.

“It seems like every month it’s used more and more and more. People don’t want to take 81, all kinds of stuff, so people want to take back roads,” Smith said.

We reached out to state police to discuss crash rates, but they referred us to the DMV’s data. The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t able to speak on it Thursday. Since the addresses are in Waynesboro, the jurisdiction can get confusing.

“When I have called about questions one person will say it’s state, one person will say it’s county, one person will say it’s city,” Smith said.

However, he said he approaches the situation with an open mind, just hoping to start a conversation on solutions.

“I don’t know if you can place the blame at anybody’s feet, but it’s just... it’s a very precarious area that I think it’s easily forgotten about,” Smith said.

He hopes for a collaborative effort among county and city staff and drivers.

“County workers, we trust you. Road workers, we trust you. Police officers, we trust you. Whatever y’all think is the best plan, we will trust that as a community like we always have. We just need a plan,” he said.

Many in the area say the worst areas are intersections, like the ones at Dooms Crossing and Purple Cow Road.

According to DMV data, of the crashes so far this year, three involved mature drivers (65+), and one involved a teen driver. One driver was distracted; two people involved were unrestrained. Two crashes were alcohol-related, and speed played a factor in two crashes. One crash was fatal.

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