Deadly crashes spark changes along I-94 corridor

Vehicles pass a new set of MDOT signs aimed at preventing lane departure crashes. (Nov. 3, 2017)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Leaving your lane can be deadly.

About half of all traffic crash deaths in the nation are tied to “lane departure” crashes, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. In the past five years, this type of crash has claimed 106 lives in seven southwestern Michigan counties, MDOT says.

Lane departure crashes include running off the road, crossing the median into oncoming traffic and sideswiping other vehicles.

Now MDOT crews are working to curb that statistic with some noticeable changes on the road.

“What we’ve done so far is install a series of chevrons and post strips and delineators in an effort to try and reduce lane departure crashes in our region,” said Stephen Brink, traffic and safety engineer for MDOT’s southwest region.

The safety measures are popping up along some of the most dangerous roads many Michigan drivers travel every day.

“We’ve installed approximately 180 miles of improvements along our routes and it looks like we will hit about 400 within about three years,” Brink said.

New signs are already posted along I-94 in Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties, and more will soon be going up along other parts of the highway’s corridor.

The goal: to keep cars in their lanes, give drivers better ability to get back onto the road, and reduce how bad the crashes are.

“What we want drivers to (do is) be able to recognize if they have a curve in the roadway to help them stay in their lane,” said Brink.