Officials address questions of safety after recent crashes on I- - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Officials address questions of safety after recent crashes on I-29

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NEAR SALIX, IA (KTIV) -

After Thursday’s fatal crash on I-29 and after a string of them in the past few months, some drivers might be worried about driving along that stretch of road.

But, those with the Iowa Department of Transportation say looking at the total number of accidents in the past decade, fatalities have actually been rare, and drivers don't need to be alarmed.

Accidents by definition are unplanned, but to those of us in Siouxland, it may seem like there's an issue with the stretch of roadway on Interstate 29 from Sergeant Bluff to Sloan, Iowa. Since December 2013, there's been 3 accidents resulting in fatalities, two of those involved vehicles crossing the median.

"There's factors other than roadway, obviously, that play into that. You've got weather conditions and driver conditions," Iowa DOT Transportation Planner Dakin Schultz said.

Schultz said their data shows just 2 fatalities out of 182 crashes from 2003 to 2012.

"From Sloan up to Sergeant Bluff, we've had a lot of accidents, but as far as this type of accident, center, crossing into oncoming lanes, we've had very few," Schultz said.

"There's been accidents, but no definite pattern. We've just had kind of a situation here, where you want to call bad luck," Sergeant Jay Smith with the Iowa State Patrol said.

But, this so-called bad luck has sparked concern, and the Iowa DOT will be further investigating.

"We will take a review of I-29 from mile marker 95, which is the Little Sioux exit up to Sioux City to evaluate to see if there are any types of high crash areas," Schultz.

If they find high crash areas, a possible treatment would be installing cable guard rail median barrier designed to stop vehicles from crossing the median. But, it would cost a pretty penny, $180,000 per mile.  Iowa State Patrol reminds all drivers to be careful any time they're behind the wheel.

"The car is probably one of the most things that's going to put a person. It's going to either put you in the hospital or six feet under. It's a very dangerous thing that we do and I think a lot of times that people take it for granted," Smith said.

In fact, Smith said interstates are typically one of the safest roadways people travel on because cars are all moving in the same direction.

But, he does urge caution and reminds us all to limit distractions and slow down when the weather conditions worsen.

The DOT district office that covers Woodbury County still needs to complete their study.

And, If they do find high crash areas based on the results, they will then present it to the Traffic and Safety office in Ames.

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