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Survey: Central Pa. has one of riskiest highway stretches in U.S.

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A transportation safety analytics company has named five sections of highway in North America as the riskiest road segments for truck drivers. Three are in Pennsylvania, and one is in Central Pennsylvania.

The local entrant is a half-mile segment of Interstate 81 near Crooked Hill Road in Susquehanna Township. It was ranked No. 3 by Lytx, based in San Diego.

Craig Penny, spokesman for PennDOT, said it is understandable why that stretch of road could be a scene of risky truck-driver habits.

"It's one of the heaviest-traveled sections of I-81 in the region. It can see about 90,000 vehicles a day and about one out of every four is a tractor trailer," he said.

He also noted there is a multi-level interchange in the area and that stretch of I-81 is a six-lane highway with many auxiliary lanes.

The other two Pennsylvania road segments are in the Lehigh Valley.

The first was a half-mile section in and around the Route 309/I-78 split in Upper Saucon Township. The second was a half-mile stretch of Interstate 78 in the area of West Emmaus Avenue.

To form the list, Lytx tracked the most incidents of risky behavior by truck drivers employed by its clients. The data is based on observed risk behaviors in Lytx client data, which comes from 116,000 event recorders installed in over-the-road trucking vehicles.

Ryan Brandos, a Lytx data analyst, was quick to point out that the survey wasn’t looking at accidents or actual traffic citations, just behavior that can lead to accidents or violations.

For example, the company tracks such things as aggressive driving, not wearing a seatbelt, following too closely, drowsy driving and aggressive driving.

Those are things drivers should always be aware of, he said, but knowing where bad driving habits happen more often is a key piece of data.

“The No. 1 thing we would say to our clients is to make sure your drivers know this is a high-risk area so stay alert,” Brandos said. “Or, if you have the ability drive around it or go another way.”

To rank risky road segments, Lytx divided the nation’s roads into half-mile square segments that its customers pass through every day.

Different risky behaviors are given different point values based on how likely they are to lead to a collision and those were organized geographically using the blocks they created.

He said road issues such as high traffic, construction and high merge areas can all contribute to risky behaviors.

The other two road segments making the top five were in Tennessee:

  • Interstate 40, near Green Hill Road, east of Knoxville
  • Interstate 24, near Belvoir Avenue in Chattanooga

According to Lytx, these five road segments are 172 times more risky on average than the rest of the company’s trucking-industry footprint, based on its risk score system.

The statistics were gathered between January and September.

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