A section of Highway 401 near Chatham has seen a spike this construction season in the number of collisions involving tractor trailers.

Figures from provincial police show 61 collisions have been reported in the first three months of construction season, which stretches from May to November. That figure is already close to the 88 crashes in the entire construction season in 2016. 

Of the crashes reported since May, 47 per cent have included tractor trailers, compared to 32 per cent last year, according to police statistics.

OPP spokesman Const. Jay Denorer couldn't pinpoint a reason for the increase.

"Everything is set up for traffic to flow safely," he said. "As you're approaching the construction zone slow down, enter into the construction zone, give space in front of you and the most important thing, don't be distracted whether it be by things in the vehicle or by your cellphone."

Const. Jay Denorer

OPP Const. Jay Denorer said there have been 61 collisions in the Highway 401 construction zone near Chatham so far this year season. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

Tony Tanghe has been a truck driver for almost 40 years and he said it seems as if the roadway has become more dangerous. 

He travels on the 401 in Chatham-Kent a few times a week and is concerned when travelling through that stretch of road.

"It's too much traffic, too close together," he said. "It only takes one person to screw up and then you have a big mess."

Tony Tanghe, collisions 401

Tony Tanghe has been a truck driver for almost 40 years. He said all motorists need to leave more space between vehicles to avoid collisions on the highway. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

The troubled stretch of road recently claimed the lives of Lacie Brundritt and her 14-year-old son Kyle.

The family was heading home from a family vacation when they became stuck in slow traffic. While they were stopped, a tractor-trailer slammed into their truck and several other vehicles near Dillon Road in Chatham-Kent.

The deadly crash prompted provincial police to warn drivers to be extra cautious around the construction zone, but just nine days later, five vehicles were damaged in a "chain-reaction" crash involving three transport trucks.

Denorer said he's heard concerns from residents as well.

"I've heard concerned people are afraid to go on the highway when collisions are happening," he said. "They think there's been a huge increase and there's a lot of safety at risk."