Lake County Sheriff Dan Dunlap said he’s investigating ways his department can help avoid chain reaction car accidents, like the one that shut down Interstate 90 for hours on Wednesday.
In total, 40 cars piled up on I-90 westbound near Vrooman Road. A total of 17 people people went to the hospital. Three people were injured seriously after lake effect snow caused white-out conditions. A similar pile-up occurred in the same spot on Jan. 18.
Dunlap said he is reviewing crash data from the past five years to try and pinpoint the worst trouble areas.
“I think we should refuse to simply say this is the way it is,” Dunlap said. "I’m going to work with the people that we have available and see if we can employ some technology."
He said that technology may include warning drivers to slow down with digital signage, or at the very least, manning deputies in trouble spots with flashing lights.
He said he will have to coordinate with the Ohio Department of Transportation, since interstate highways fall under their jurisdiction. Those plans will cost money, but the sheriff said he’d rather spend money preventing accidents than spend money responding to them.
“May be a million dollars when you talk about hospital visits, insurance, destroyed expensive semis,” Dunlap said. "Perhaps it would be better to spend our money with some preventative measures.”
On Wednesday, big rig driver Darren Sharkey had to be diverted around that mess.
"There are some truckers that go too fast,” Sharkey said. "A lot of it is we get pressure from our dispatch to get there in a hurry, get there no matter what the situation is.”
ODOT District 12 spokesperson Amanda McFarland said drivers need to remind themselves to slow down, pay attention and increase their distance during severe weather.
“When those snow squalls set up, you have got to be prepared for conditions to change mile-by-mile, minute-by-minute,” McFarland said, "It’s going to happen.”
The Lake County Sheriff's Office posted this statement to Facebook on Thursday:
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