Virginia State Police Urge Caution On New Express Lanes

Since the lanes opened last Saturday, there have been five accidents at the northbound entrance

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Steps already are being taken to make the I-495 express lanes in Virginia safer after six accidents since Saturday. News4's Tony Tull reports. (Published Monday, Nov 19, 2012)

    The first official rush hour commute for Virginia's new express lanes saw a four-car crash -- the fifth collission since the new lanes were openened Saturday.

    By Monday afternoon, that number was up to six.

    Five Crashes in Three Days on New 495 Lanes

    [DC] Five Crashes in Three Days on New 495 Lanes
    Drivers are warned to be careful on the new Express Lanes -- there have been five crashes since they opened. Most involved cars trying to avoid merging into the lanes. (Published Monday, Nov 19, 2012)

    All six crashes occurred at the entrance to the northbound Express Lanes (Braddock Road Exit 54), a Virginia State Police spokesperson said.

    In each of the cases, northbound drivers swerved or made sudden lane changes to avoid entering the toll lanes. The drivers then lost control and crashed into other vehicles and/or cement barriers.

    "Just to give you some perspective, for the weekend of Saturday, Nov. 3, to Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, we had seven total crashes on the entire I-495 stretch -- from Springfield to the American Legion Bridge," the police spokesperson told News4 in an email.

    News4's Adam Tuss spoke with officials, who said that they would review data from the day and consider tweaks to the rollout of the program.

    It drives home the message from Virginia State Police, who are urging commuters to use caution as they drive on the new I-495 Express Lanes for the first time.

    Virginia State Police Fairfax Division Commander Capt. Mike Spivey said in a release:

    “If you are headed out this evening or will be using I-495 in the morning, then please plan ahead and before your trip research your options with the new Express Lanes. Your morning drive on I-495 is going to look much different from what you are used to, so take advantage tonight of the maps and detailed information provided at www.495ExpressLanes.com. Familiarize yourself with where the traffic lanes change to decide if you want or can use the Express Lanes in the morning, thus preventing yourself from being stuck in traffic or causing a serious crash.”

    Drivers have also been stopping or backing up to avoid the express lane tolls -- something they should never do. Drivers can pay the toll online at www.495ExpressLanes.com if they don't have an EZPass.

    Some drivers took to Twitter Monday to praise the new lanes.

    "Just had a nice, quick trip on the new @495ExpressLanes to the 95 HOV lanes. Think I might upgrade to a EZPass Flex soon," @fortran wrote.

    And @jcoffey01 wrote, "@495ExpressLanes saved me about 10 mins today for less than $1!"