Data from the state Department of Transportation indicate fewer motorists are crashing into trees and dying along a stretch of I-385 in Laurens County since several trees were removed during a widening project about four years ago. The clear zone there was increased to meet the current national guidance. A clear zone is the un-obstructed area beyond the edge of the traveled way that allows a driver to stop safely or regain control of a vehicle that leaves the traveled way. In a five-year span before the I-385 improvement project, there was an average of 12.4 crashes involving trees each year. In nearly three years since the project’s completion, that number has reduced to 3.1 crashes involving trees.