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Crash data shows hundreds of wrecks on notoriously deadly and dangerous stretch of I-10

1 year 5 months 1 week ago Thursday, June 07 2018 Jun 7, 2018 June 07, 2018 11:06 AM June 07, 2018 in News
Source: WBRZ
Ronald Allen, 26, of Alexandria, was killed in this April 2017 fiery crash. Allen's car was rear-ended by a semi then pushed into the back of another tractor trailer. The collision caused a fire that burned both Allen's vehicle and both 18-wheelers.

BATON ROUGE – There are nearly 800 crashes a year on a deadly stretch of I-10 between the Atchafalaya Basin and the Mississippi River Bridge.

DOTD released the data in a new video posted on its Facebook page this week. The video is a stern message to distracted drivers who have been blamed for rear-end collisions that have left children dead, fiery messes and hours-long closures of the interstate.

The area is notorious – the chief traffic deputy in West Baton Rouge has labeled the thruway “Devil's Triangle.”

Lt. Ken Albarez has appeared on WBRZ numerous times, frustrated about the number of wrecks and lives lost along I-10 just west of downtown Baton Rouge and the river.

"I don't want to sound like a cliche, but how much is a human life worth?" Albarez has questioned about why more has not been done to fix the problem.

State highway officials have responded, they've said, as best they can – installing flashing yellow lights miles before eastbound daily gridlock usually starts, message boards and rumble strips along the side of the highway. But, the primary culprit has always been distracted drivers.

Seventy-seven percent of the 800 wrecks are because people are not paying attention, DOTD said in its video.

In September, a 5-year-old boy died in a chain-reaction crash involving a handful of vehicles. Following the wreck, WBRZ proposed a stronger safety plan for the area. WBRZ highlighted the visual and vibrating warnings drivers pass on I-10 in Mobile, Alabama, ahead of the tunnel. In September, La. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson said state highway monitors would discuss the safety features of the I-10 corridor.

A 43-year-old truck driver was arrested and charged in connection with the crash.

Albarez has blamed the notorious bottleneck of I-10 East merging to one lane near Washington Street as a major contributor to slowdowns across the river. The state is in the planning stages of widening I-10 from the river through Baton Rouge, though a finished highway is years off.

The video posted this week highlights what has already been done: those warning signs, rumble strips and cable barriers. The cable barriers have been successful in avoiding a major, cross-over crash.

Still, state officials warn, the most solid safety measure is for drivers to watch the road and be vigilant behind the wheel.

“Simply paying attention can decrease the number of wrecks.”

The I-10 highway system, which stretches some 2,460 miles from California to Florida, is ranked the sixth deadliest in the country. With more than 1,700 deaths, the roadway averaged 0.703 deaths per mile in the span of five years.

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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