I-70 accidents down in north St. Louis

February 28, 2013 by  

Two years after a group of cities in St. Louis County implemented a program designed to cut down the number of accidents along the stretch of I-70 that runs from St. Ann through Pine Lawn, the Missouri Department of Transportation has declared the program a qualified success.

In 2011, new road signs were erected, informational flyer printing was undertaken, and most importantly, stiff new fines were implemented.

The seven-mile zone has seen its rate accidents decrease by half, according to department statistics. The number of crashes in 2009, before the program, was 757, whereas in 2011 there were 384.

The declaration of the ‘Travel Safe Zone’ in 2011 was criticized in some quarters as a thinly disguised ploy to beef up the local city budgets. Missouri law allows police to double speeding fines in areas so designated, leading to some unpleasant surprises when unaware motorists could find themselves facing a two or three hundred dollar fine. The stretch of highway was quickly labeled a speed trap by some, but this was denied by St. Ann Police Chief Bob Schrader, who said:

“People all the time tell me it’s a speed trap. Speed traps are something a small town would do…hide behind a billboard or overpass and write [tickets] for 3 to 4 miles over the speed limit.”

The department noted that police cars are set up in visible locations to act as a deterrent rather than an ambush. Chief Schrader added:

“Our stretch of I-70 is, or was, out of control. We want to drop those accidents.”

It appears, for now, that they have.