MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Law enforcement from three states are planning a series of campaigns in the coming weeks aimed at one of the state’s most deadly stretches of highway. Interstate 81 flows through West Virginia for only a few miles, but it has an abnormally high amount of accidents and fatalities.
“People are impatient and that’s why we have a lot of problems,” said Sgt. J.D. Burkhart of the West Virginia State Police. “People drive too fast; they’re talking on their cell phones and texting. We have a lot of crashes and too many fatalities.”
The highway is heavy congested and most times of the day and drivers are flying because the road is three lanes and fairly straight in West Virginia. The plans call for unannounced upticks in enforcement not only on the West Virginia stretch, but also in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
“We’ll try to flood the area with troopers and curb some of the problems,” Burkhart said. “We’ll work together on unannounced dates to look for distracted driving and aggressive driving.”
Burkhart said with that many authorities on the road they’ll also use it for a drug interdiction period said the route has become a notorious pipeline for drugs, especially heroin.
Burkhart said at one time it wasn’t so bad, but more and more people have left I-95 and use I-81 as an alternate route to escape the traffic. Now, 81 is becoming equally dangerous. Burkhart hopes their future blitzes will help since they are unable to regularly patrol the highway.
“People traveling from West Virginia and into Maryland and Pennsylvania will see all the law enforcement and hopefully respond.” he said. “People see a heavy law enforcement presence and they tend to slow down, and they should.”