"It's very difficult to change driver behavior, but what we can do is improve the safety of the road."
Chris Neidig, team manager for the state Department of Transportation's Route 220 safety study, had those instructive words at a recent meeting regarding safety improvements being considered for the highway between Route 287 in Piatt Township to the West Fourth Street interchange in Williamsport.
If only Neidig's words weren't so true. If driver habits weren't so ingrained among the 22,000 vehicles daily that travel the stretch of Route 220 in question, the access points to the highway wouldn't be so treacherous, the tragic crashes not nearly so frequent.
But the fact is the stretch of highway is very treacherous and PennDOT outlined the skeleton of a safety improvement plan at the meeting:
Prohibit left turns from side streets onto Route 220.
Prohibit crossing movements from side streets.
Reduce the number of median openings.
Enhance the local road network.
Provide safe locations to turn around via jughandles and U-turns.
Remove and/or reduce redundant access points along the corridor.
Another pubic meeting on proposed improvements will be held in May and a final report on the safety study will be issued in June.
A phased-in schedule of work, being done under the $2 billion transportation bill approved by Gov. Corbett in November, will follow.
It can't happen soon enough, because history shows unanimous improvement in driver safety habits isn't going to happen.