Highway safety concerns as Thanksgiving nears

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On Friday there was an accident at the toll booth near Chelyan, along the West Virginia Turnpike in Kanawha County. No one was hurt, but transportation officials said it is a timely reminder to slow down.

Within a mile of a toll booth, the speed limit drops to 35 miles per hour, and then to 5 miles per hour as drivers approach the plaza. However, because so many people are now using E-Z Pass transponders and do not have to stop for the toll taker, many do not slow down enough.

“So we are seeing an increasing number of vehicles, especially commercial vehicles, tractor-trailers, going through those lanes at a high rate of speed,” said Greg Barr, WV Parkways Authority General Manager.

Friday’s accident was not the only one recently. There have been a number of serious wrecks on the 88-mile turnpike, snarling traffic for miles. A lot of it is preventable.

“And Greg has really set the point and I want to emphasize about slowing down, paying attention, put your cellphone down,” said Secretary Tom Smith, of the WV Department of Transportation.

Because of heavy traffic volume over the five-day, Thanksgiving weekend, the turnpike and other highways will be heavily patrolled by the West Virginia State Police

“There’ll be a lot more people out because of the holiday activities. There’ll be some DUI patrols that will be in place also. And the main things is just trying to get people to slow down,” said Capt. Tim Bragg, West Virginia State Police.

Seat belt enforcement will also be a priority.

Transportation officials explained the busiest times at the toll booths will be 10 am through 6 pm on Wednesday, and again on Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. If travelers can avoid those times, they  might have a better drive.

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