Recent crashes highlight the danger of traveling along Hwy 199
JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. —
Redwood Highway, also known as HWY 199, has been the site of major crashes over the years, many of them fatal.
The Oregon Department of Transportation says it's a road that combines multiple safety concerns. "It's got curves and hills and so forth, so if drivers aren't paying, they can get into trouble very quickly, and a lot of time when they get into trouble that has impacts on other drivers," says Gary Leaming, ODOT spokesman.
That impact can mean head-on crashes when people try to pass on the left when they shouldn't, or even when people turn out of their driveways, with so many side roads stemming off high speed corridors.
The numbers of fatal crashes vary over time. 2018 has seen six. 2017 saw three. And 2016 saw eight.
But Leaming says one fatality is too many.
"In traffic safety there's the three "E" components. There's education, engineering, and enforcement. And on Redwood Highway that's out of balance. We have the engineering, we've done the work, we'v done lots of safety projects in the last 15 years, but that enforcement component is a little off and that driver education, that self responsibility," says Leaming.
The Oregon State Police says they are aware of the danger and try to patrol the road, but they're dealing with a long, distant corridor and limited resources.
"Especially in the winter time we have increased traffic crashes because of the weather, people not paying attention to the slower roads," says Sgt. Jeff Proulx with OSP.
Proulx urges people to drive sober, slow down, and pay always attention.