Officials baffled by frequency of I-65 wrecks

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By Heather Lusk

If it seems there are a lot of accidents on I-65 in Boone County, it’s not just in your imagination. Last fall and winter there were 208 accidents along that stretch of road versus 85 along a stretch of I-70 in Hendricks County with similar annual average daily traffic, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielson said that the county and INDOT have tried to account for this difference for years.

“We could never explain why that stretch of road has a significant number of crashes,” he said.

The difference in accidents isn’t limited to winter. In 2013 between May and October when weather shouldn’t have been a significant factor, there were 201 collisions on I-65 in Boone County compared to 83 wrecks along the similar stretch of I-70.

In 2005, INDOT installed cable barriers along a 13-mile stretch of I-65 in Boone County and a 21-mile stretch of I-69 to help reduce wrecks caused by vehicles crossing the median. During the first eight months of testing, vehicles hit the barriers 69 times but did not pass through and no deaths or major injuries were reported.

“[The cable barrier] decreased our fatalities significantly,” Nielsen said. “We were very happy to see that cable go up.”

After the cable barriers proved successful during a trial phase, INDOT replaced them with permanent concrete barriers. INDOT also added another through lane to improve the safety and mobility of motorists, said Debbie Calder, INDOT communications director. She noted that I-65 has eight interchanges versus three in Hendricks County, which could be a factor in the higher number of crashes.

But some of these accidents can be prevented by more careful driving. INDOT reminds motorists to slow down and pay special attention while traveling in work zones and to drive safely during snow and ice events in the winter months.

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