In the last installment of Larson Griffee & Pickett PLLC look at some of the region’s most dangerous roads, we will take a close look at I-82 southeast of Yakima, through the Lower Yakima Valley and into Benton County. Each blog of our three-part series focused on a different, dangerous stretch of Yakima Valley interstate, with the goal of helping to reduce readers’ risk of being involved in a crash when traveling these roads.

Because construction began over 50 years ago, the designers of the interstates in the Yakima Valley region did not account for the vast influx of commuters to the city on a daily basis.

Today, however, thousands of people flood the interstates around Yakima every day. This increase in traffic congestion, especially when paired with distracted driving and other poor driving habits, leads to hundreds of injury and fatality crashes in the area each year.

Dangerous Washington Road: I-82 from Yakima to the Tri-Cities

While we profiled a stretch of I-82 just north of Yakima in the second installment of our Dangerous Washington Roads series, we decided to shine a light on another dangerous section of the interstate.

Southeast of Yakima, I-82 connects the city with the Tri-Cities, cutting through a region known as the Lower Yakima Valley. The Tri-Cities is home to over 200,000 with many more commuting for work.

I-82 passes near Union Gap, Zillah, Granger, Sunnyside and Grandview in Yakima County before reaching Prosser then Richland and the rest of the Tri-Cities in Benton County, Washington.

This section of interstate is packed with commuters during the week and leisure travelers on the weekends. High speed crashes, rollovers, wrong-way wrecks, and other preventable accidents are common in the area, leaving many dead and many more injured each year.

What types of crashes are common on I-82?

Perhaps the most dangerous section of I-82 in the Lower Yakima Valley lies near Sunnyside. It is not uncommon for drivers to run off the road — or veer off and overcorrect — in this area, especially when tired, drunk, or distracted.

In at least one case, overcorrecting led to the vehicle rolling over. Luckily, the driver was wearing a seatbelt, and suffered only minor injuries. Her car, however, was unsalvageable.

Another accident in the area exemplifies another all-too-common problem on this stretch of I-82. A wrong way, late-night crash took the life of one motorist and injured another in the westbound lanes of I-82 just outside Sunnyside.

The collision occurred when the driver entered the westbound lanes and proceeded to drive east. Her Pontiac hit a westbound Ford Expedition head-on. She died at the scene; police could not determine if alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash.

A similar event took the life of a Grandview woman near the Yakima and Benton county line, at mile marker 75. Another motorist entered the westbound lanes going east around 3 a.m. His truck collided with a sedan occupied by a woman and child, both of Grandview. The woman died at the scene, and both the child and the wrong-way driver required emergency treatment at Sunnyside Community Hospital.

Another problem area of I-82 in the Lower Yakima Valley is around mile marker 78 near Prosser. In a single day in 2014, two single-car accidents sent four women to the hospital with accident injuries.

The first crash occurred during the morning rush hour. A car carrying three women veered off the roadway, hit a guardrail, and went down an embankment. All three women required emergency medical care.

Less than 15 minutes later, a woman crashed her Ford F-150 in the same area. According to Washington State Troopers, she was speeding too fast for the current road conditions.

The eastbound truck collided with the guardrail on the right side of the road, crossed onto the westbound lanes, and hit the guardrail opposite. The truck came to a stop in the median. The driver received treatment at PMH Medical Center.

How can I stay safe while traveling on I-82 in Washington?

Since many of the accidents that occur along I-82 in the Lower Yakima Valley are single-car incidents, taking the right precautions and developing good driving habits can greatly reduce your risk of a crash in this area. Some of the best ways to ensure your safety on I-82 include:

  • Always wearing a seat belt
  • Never drinking and driving
  • Always paying careful attention to ensure you enter only the correct interstate ramp
  • Limiting distractions, including cell phone calls
  • Not texting and driving
  • Slowing down in rain, snow, or other adverse conditions
  • Driving defensively and stay vigilant behind the wheel
  • Pulling over if you spot a wrong way driver

Even if you take every precaution possible, you may still be the victim of a Yakima car accident. Knowing what to do at the scene of the crash, how to get the medical help you need, and how to collect evidence to protect your legal right to compensation is important in ensuring you get the best outcome.

The Larson Griffee & Pickett PLLC offers advice and answers many of your most frequently asked questions in our free car accident guide. We can also help you navigate the process of filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit to get the compensation you need to pay medical bills, lost wages, and more.

Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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