Interstate 71, stretching from Louisville, Kentucky, to Cleveland, Ohio, and passing through Cincinnati and Columbus, is currently identified as the most perilous roadway in the United States, as reported by SafeWise, a platform dedicated to evaluating security products.
SafeWise conducted a comprehensive analysis of three years’ worth of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerning fatal accidents. Their findings unveiled that I-71 holds the highest fatality rate per mile of any interstate in the country. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind I-71’s hazardous nature and explore potential avenues for its enhancement.
How SafeWise Determines Roadway Safety
SafeWise employs data collected from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the U.S. Census Bureau to rank the most dangerous roads in the United States. They compute the fatality rate per mile for each interstate and arrange them in descending order of danger. Their assessments include only those interstates with a minimum length of 100 miles that provide complete crime data to the FBI.
SafeWise defines the fatality rate as the ratio of fatalities to the total length of the interstate in miles, excluding non-fatal injuries and property damage.
Factors Underlying I-71’s Status as the Deadliest Road in the U.S.
I-71 spans an extensive 343 miles, with 248 miles situated in Ohio. This interstate connects four major cities, functioning as a primary conduit for commerce, tourism, and transportation. Nonetheless, several contributing factors have propelled it to the top of the list of deadly roads, including:
High Traffic Volume and Congestion: I-71 carries an average of 78,000 vehicles daily, with certain segments exceeding 100,000 vehicles daily. This substantial traffic load leads to traffic bottlenecks, collisions, and delays, particularly during peak hours and holidays.
Urban and Rural Variance: I-71 traverses both urban and rural areas, each posing distinct driving conditions and challenges. Urban areas are characterized by numerous intersections, exits, entrances, and pedestrian activity, heightening the risk of accidents. In contrast, rural areas present more curves, hills, and wildlife, necessitating increased attention and caution.
Varied Weather and Road Conditions: Throughout the year, I-71 encounters diverse weather and road conditions, including rain, snow, ice, fog, wind, and potholes. These elements can impair visibility, traction, and vehicle stability, rendering driving more demanding and perilous.
Strategies for Enhancing I-71’s Safety
I-71 need not remain the most perilous road in the United States indefinitely. Several measures can be implemented to enhance its safety and efficiency, such as:
Highway Expansion and Modernization: By widening and modernizing I-71, the capacity to accommodate greater traffic and reduce congestion can be improved. This may encompass the addition of extra lanes, shoulders, medians, guardrails, bridges, tunnels, ramps, enhanced lighting, signage, signals, markings, and the integration of intelligent transportation systems such as cameras, sensors, and variable message signs.
Strengthening Law Enforcement and Emergency Response: Increased and more effective patrols and monitoring by law enforcement agencies can enforce traffic laws and deter reckless driving. This involves the intensification of patrols, checkpoints, speed cameras, radar speed checks, and breathalyzer tests. Additionally, stricter penalties for violations and heightened education and awareness campaigns can be implemented. Moreover, emergency response teams can be better equipped and trained to provide swifter and more efficient responses to accidents and incidents.
Promoting Safe Driving Practices: Encouraging I-71 drivers to practice safe and responsible driving behavior is essential. This involves adhering to simple guidelines and rules, such as wearing seat belts, minimizing distractions, maintaining safe speeds and distances, adjusting to weather and road conditions, obeying traffic signals and signs, utilizing turn signals, checking blind spots, respecting other road users, remaining alert, planning journeys in advance, and avoiding impaired driving.
SafeWise’s data ranks I-71 as the deadliest road in the United States based on federal statistics. Its high fatality rate is linked to heavy traffic, a mix of urban and rural areas, and varied weather and road conditions. Nevertheless, I-71 has the potential for improvement through highway expansion and modernization, enhanced law enforcement and emergency response, and the promotion of safe driving practices. With these measures, I-71 can evolve into a safer and more efficient roadway in the future.