DPS hopes I-40 Challenge will make the highway safer for drivers - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

DPS hopes I-40 Challenge will make the highway safer for drivers

Ron Johnston, Amarillo District Engineer for TXDOT Ron Johnston, Amarillo District Engineer for TXDOT
Cindy Barkley, DPS Trooper Cindy Barkley, DPS Trooper

Amarillo, TX - The Texas Department of Public Safety announced their participation in the "Interstate 40 Challenge: The Drive toward Zero Fatalities," traffic enforcement campaign. 

DPS and the Texas Department of Transportation are working together to make traveling safer for citizens on the highway this holiday weekend. Troopers and officers will be assigned spots 20 miles apart on I-40 where they will increase their efforts to identify traffic violations such as speeding, seat belt usage, moving over or slowing for emergency vehicles, following too closely, unsafe distracted drivers, intoxicated drivers, and criminal activities. They will also be available to assist motorists and travelers who are lost or stranded. 

Troopers and officers will monitor the highway for 12 hour periods on Wednesday, November 25 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, November 29 because they are the busiest traveling days during the Thanksgiving holiday. In 2014, one crash was reported every 66 seconds on I40.  DPS hopes this challenge will keep drivers on this highway safe. The challenge was issued to seven other state police, highway patrol agencies, and city police. Law enforcement officials from Texas, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee have all accepted the challenge and will participate.

Trooper for the Department of Public Safety, Cindy Barkley, said motorists have to do several things to ensure a safe trip. They have to eliminate distractions while driving (like using a cell phone or looking at other accidents or vehicles stopped on the shoulder), buckle up, refrain from drinking and driving (use a designated driver or call a cab), slow down in inclement conditions, get plenty of rest, plan the drive, drive defensively, and maintain your vehicle.

Amarillo District Engineer for TxDOT, Ron Johnston, hopes TxDOT and DPS can provide safe travel for motorists. "I hope this challenge brings us together as agencies (so) we serve the citizens of Texas the way they need to be served (and that) we provide the best travel (and) the best road conditions that we possibly can." He said officers will be on the roadways to ensure your safety. "We have law enforcement that's on the job (so) if they (travelers) do have problems that they're there to assist them as well," Johnston said. "Not only to enforce the law but provide assistance." 

Inclement weather is headed our way this weekend; therefore, TxDOT will be prepared and ready to move into action in the event of bad driving conditions. They will clear highways and assist stranded motorists and law enforcement agencies who request their service. TxDOT said motorists should have an emergency pack on hand containing a blanket, water, food, and any other items they will need until help arrives. Johnston said travelers should be up to date with current road conditions and can do so by visit TxDOT's website or calling 1-800-452-9292. 

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