TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Since 2017, a total of 1,098 crashes occurred on I-70 between mile marker 1 and 59. Of these collisions 220 of them resulted in injury, with 11 causing death.

According to Sgt. Matt Ames with Indiana State Police, there are several factors that play into the amount of crashes on this stretch of interstate, one of those being speed.

“Most accidents that occur out here are contributed to speed as being the number one contributing factor. People don’t realize just going five miles per hour, you’re four times more likely to be involved in an accident and you’re more likely to cause more damage,” Ames said.

While speed is considered the main cause of crashes on I-70. In 2019, distracted driving has made two crashes deadly.

“One was a manual distraction where a driver actually dropped a sandwich, he bent over or reached over to pick up his sandwich, all of a sudden traffic was stopped in front of him, he attempted to make an evasive driving maneuver, was unable to avoid the semi tractor trailers in front of him and unfortunately killed the passenger that was in his vehicle,” ames said.

To help prevent these sorts of crashes in the future, according to the President of the Indiana Motor Truck Association Gary Langston, cameras are being added to trucks across the country.

“It’s not only good for helping to prevent drivers from doing things that distract them, but it’s also good for when there is an accident to see what caused it and how to prevent it in the future,” Langston said.

Langston says the motor trucking industry spends around 9 billion per year nationwide to promote safety, but the IMTA is doing work of their own to make sure drivers realize the importance of driving safely on I-70 between Indianapolis and Terre Haute.

“We’re putting up five billboards in conjunction with Lamar that talks about the importance of not being distracted while you’re driving,” Langston said.

Sgt. Ames says by limiting distractions and obeying the speed limit, I-70 can become safer for all drivers and prevent crashes that not only affect families but also those who have to respond to the scene.

“In 2017, i worked a double fatal involving two small children and I visited with the grand father and grandmother for those children. To sit in that room and to talk to them and tell them exactly what happened, and to just see the emotion on their faces. That’s an accident that I wake up every day knowing when I put my uniform on, that I’m trying to provide safer roadways out here,” Ames said.

Debbie Calder with West-Central INDOT says that it is possible to add an additional lane on I-70, but there have been no set plans to do this. An additional lane on I-70 would cost 10 million dollars per mile.

INDOT will host an open house Thursday, May 9th at Oakland High School in Lafayette, where the community can voice their concerns about road projects.