ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - More than 40,000 vehicles drive along Route 419 in Roanoke County each day. On any given day, people working near the intersection of Electric Road and Elm View see an accident.
"I just feel like this is accident alley right here," said Debra Cunningham with Provisions Gourmet & RSVP.
Cunningham's store is located along one of the highest volume corridors in the region. She said she's amazed at the number of rear-enders and other collisions happening outside her store window.
"It can be 3 or 4 cars that just suddenly run into the back of each other," she explained.
Figures from Roanoke County officials show that since 2013, roughly 55 crashes happened near the intersection of Electric Road and Elm View Road, which may not include some minor fender benders. While most cases resulted in dinged up fenders and bumpers, there were about 15 reported injuries. Cunningham believes speeding and distracted driving are a big part of the traffic problem
"I'm sure people are texting or playing Candy Crush when they run into the back of somebody," said Cunningham.
Roanoke County police say they have similar issues near the intersection of Challenger Avenue and Cloverdale Road.
"A lot of it is from speeding. People driving aggressively and not being patient for the other drivers," said Sgt. Spencer Lewis, Roanoke County Police Department.
Lewis patrols the area near the Cloverdale/Challenger intersection. He says he often responds to crashes along the busy stretch of road. According to data from Roanoke County analysts, 59 crashes - the highest number in the county since 2013, occurred near the intersection. Officials say those accidents left at least 15 people hurt. In an effort to promote safety, officers boosted patrols.
"We've put out our radar trailers to give you a visual estimation of your speed going through there to try to get you to slow down," says Lewis.
In addition, officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation say flashing beacons were installed on two right-turn lanes to warn drivers to use caution. Officers remain on the lookout for aggressive drivers.
"Not always to give you a ticket. It's just sometimes so you can have a visual deterrent," said Lewis. "You might see an officer and slow down and be more cautious when you're driving."
VDOT officials say they are considering adding overhead signs to show drivers which lane to use, but the plan hasn't been funded yet.
Meanwhile, drivers along 419 believe changes in traffic light patterns could help ease congestion and prevent future accidents near Tanglewood Mall.
"I know they are trying to fix this. There are talks about plans for widening the road but it probably won't be in my lifetime," said Cunningham.
VDOT says last year the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved plans for a $5.8 million project along 419. It would add a turn lane, bike paths and sidewalks along the road making it easier for drivers and pedestrians to navigate.
Work on that project isn't expected to begin until 2021, according to VDOT.
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