Four months of increased police patrols and the issuing of more speeding tickets are slowing drivers down in the Interstate 64 work zone in Barboursville.
In 2022, there were 800 crashes in West Virginia work zones, killing eight people and injuring 276. Gov. Justice directed West Virginia Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E., to do everything possible to lower highway fatalities in the Mountain State to zero.
At Gov. Justice’s direction, and in partnership with public safety officials and police organizations throughout the Mountain State, the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) began cracking down on drivers speeding through work zones in March. West Virginia State Police, the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department, and police departments from Huntington, Barboursville and Milton took part in multiple targeted speed enforcement operations in the I-64 work zone in Barboursville.
WVDOH is increasing signs and radar speed detectors in work zones to remind drivers to slow down, poring over work zone crash data for information to help make our work zones safer, investing in new equipment and technology to place in work zones, and reaching out to the public to get the message out to slow down and pay attention while traveling through road work areas.
Law enforcement began cracking down on speeders in the Barboursville work zone in the middle of March 2023. Traffic data collected by the WVDOH show a dramatic decrease in the number of speeders in the months since the crackdowns began.
In March, only 20.43 percent of motorists traveling through the work zone obeyed the posted 55 mph speed limit, the data show. That number increased to 37.26 percent in April.
Decreases in speed were most dramatic for drivers going over 85 mph through the work zone. Drivers going over 85 mph dropped from 1.54 percent of all drivers in March to a low of 0.33 percent following increased speed enforcement.
But we’re not stopping there.
Traffic figures show that eastbound drivers are driving a lot faster than drivers heading west. From Monday, July 10, 2023, through Sunday, July 17, 2023, more than 73 percent of eastbound drivers were going faster than the 55 mph speed limit, compared with about 48 percent of drivers heading west.
Scott Eplin, in charge of Transportation Security and Emergency Operations for the WVDOH, said the organization will step up the police presence to target speeders heading east on Interstate 64.
“The data show us we’ve got a problem, and we’re going to target it,” Eplin said.