You motorists who travel on Interstates 90 and 94, here is your warning: Police in 15 states will be out in force this weekend looking for speeders, drunken or distracted drivers and people not wearing seat belts.
Minnesota agencies are part of the coast-to-coast event, called the I-90/94 Challenge. Their goal is to record no traffic deaths and to cut in half the number of crashes on what has been the most dangerous period of the summer on the two freeways over the past three years.
From 2011 to 2013, more than 524 crashes have been recorded during the Aug. 1-4 time frame. Of them, 56 involved buses and large trucks, 10 were alcohol-related and three resulted in deaths.
“We are looking to go 0 for 4 this weekend,” said Lt. Col. Matt Langer of the Minnesota State Patrol. “We aim for 96 hours without a traffic-related death. We are asking motorists to take the challenge with us.”
Along with state police, local law enforcement agencies will have a presence on 5,600 miles of freeways in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Washington. Langer said authorities are hoping that high visibility, education and enforcement can prevent tragedies.
Police “will be cracking down on behaviors that have tragic consequences and to get motorists to drive like it depends on that, because it does,” said Mona Dohman, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
The I-90/94 Challenge is part of a national effort by the International Association of Chiefs of Police called “The Drive Challenge.” Its goal is to reduce traffic fatalities across the nation by 15 percent.
Throughout the campaign, law enforcement will be posting updates on the I-90/94 Challenge Facebook page (www.facebook.com/9094Challenge) and asking motorists to tweet messages using the hashtag #9094Challenge. They have crafted a pledge message on the Thunderclap (http://bit.ly/1oc5sYT), a social media site that allows several people to share the same message at once.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also is on board. More than one-third of crashes by truck drivers involve those who are not wearing seat belts. About one-fourth involve truckers who were speeding, said Jack Van Steenburg, chief safety officer and assistant administrator for the administration.
“We have to slow these truck drivers down,” he said during a news conference Wednesday at the State Capitol. “These tragedies are preventable.”
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