Trouble with the Curve: The dangers of the I-70/I-75 interchange

The dangers of the I-70/I-75 interchange.

BUTLER TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) -- It's called the “Crossroads of America” where I-70 meets I-75 in Butler Township. It’s the location of a treacherous, curved off-ramp that Ohio State Patrol says can be dangerous for truck drivers who don’t take the bend seriously. Between 2011 and 2016, the Ohio Department of Transportation says there were more than 60 semi crashes at the interchange.

For semi-truck drivers it's like the Bermuda triangle, where one miscalculation can lead to an accident.

"It's simple, speed and physics,” Ohio State Patrolman Sgt. Frank Simmons Jr. said, “You're going too fast, momentum takes over, and the vehicle will flip over."

Kevin Duff is a veteran driver, and the road is his office. Behind the wheel he's one with his truck.

“Your body tenses up because you can feel it, I go to slow down,” Duff described.

He says some drivers come to the ramp at I-70 and I-75, and just don't slow down.

“They are pushing it to the last second, before they are hitting their breaks, they are trying to get every minute they can,” Duff said.

For him, the rule of thumb is to go 5 MPH under the posting curve speed, but when miles are money, drivers can cheat.

“That's where a lot of this comes from with truck drivers in such a hurry,” Duff said.

It is especially difficult for rookie drivers. Some newbies are working for two weeks with a trainer, and then two more with a team trainer.

“A month is not long enough for anyone to learn how to drive these things,” Duff said, “You see it all the time. I’ll get behind guys who are going way faster than I am.”

At 55 MPH, it can take Duff three football fields to come to a complete stop.

“They are going to have to put some bright flashing signs, some lights,” Duff suggests.

Two flashing lights already sit ahead of the curve, but Duff says new drivers tend to focus on the road ahead, and not their peripherals. It may lead to these headlines full of smashed headlights.

“You're not gaining any time by trying to fly through that off-ramp at all,” Duff proclaimed.

As of March there were 1,800 openings for new truck drivers in the Miami Valley, and some may be hitting that curve for the first time. The Ohio State Patrol urges drivers to slow down, and proceed through it with caution.

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