Cherokee Co. targets dangerous roads

TAHLEQUAH, Okla - Starting Tuesday, Cherokee County law enforcement agencies are joining forces. They're trying to reduce the number of crashes along four Tahlequah area highways that are notorious for deadly collisions.
For the next 30 days, Cherokee County law enforcement agencies will focus on education. They will be writing mostly, warnings to let drivers know about the new enforcement effort. After that, there will be a zero tolerance policy for speeding and other violations in those areas.

Cherokee County has some of the most scenic roadways in the state. Unfortunately, they are also some of the deadliest -- in particular highways 82, 62, 51 and 10. These areas were flagged by ODOT as deadly corridors.

"I would say that's one of our No. 1 problems down here is DUI"s," said OHP trooper Rodney Vick.

He says he has seen too many deadly crashes in the five years he's patrolled these roads. Many of them have involved drunk drivers who crossed the center line.

Lt. George Brown with Oklahoma Highway Patrol says there are far too many alcohol-induced tragedies on those same roads every year.

Highway 10 runs along the Illinois River. Highway 82 takes drivers to Lake Tinkiller. Both roads are narrow two lanes highways that twist and curve.

"I think when you have a two lane highway, such as Highway 10, and there's no shoulder to provide for someone to get off the road safely," said Brown. "But then again, human error always adds to that. Anytime we have intoxicated drivers, inattentive drivers -- combine that with the location of the roadway -- and I think you have a deadly combination."

Every agency in the county will be watching drivers in those areas that have been designated as "Safety Corridors" -- even agencies that typically don't have the staff for traffic enforcement, like the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.

"When you get agencies together like this, we multiply manpower," said Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault. "So it helps out. And we will be able to be more proactive instead of reactive this summer."

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office tells 2NEWS safety corridors have also been established in Pottawatamie County and third will begin in Payne County on May 17.

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