First, let me offer my condolences to everyone affected by the wrecks that have happened at the intersection of Sparta Highway and Rock Island Road. Words cannot express how shocking and devastating it is to lose a loved one in a motor vehicle accident. I do know the feeling.
I live on the other side of that intersection. Because of that, I drive through that area at least twice a day and sometimes several times a day. It makes me nervous every time. The intersection has heavy traffic congestion. Sadly, not everyone is as diligent as they should be when navigating through it. I’ve seen it over and over.
A week after the wreck in January that claimed the lives of two people, I was approaching that intersection and a guy came from Rock Island Road. He looked, albeit briefly, and came right out into traffic. He didn’t stop. I’ve seen situations like that more times than I can count. It’s reckless. People should stop, take enough time to judge oncoming traffic accurately, and then go.
Now, I’m not prone to road rage. However, I really wanted to give that guy the universal sign of disapproval. I’m sure everyone knows what that gesture would have been. I did not do it.
There are at least two issues that lead to these accidents. One, some people have started seeing stop signs as suggestions and not a requirement. Two, distracted driving with way too much going on inside the car with radio, conversations, cellphones, children, thinking about what’s needed at the store, etc.
I’m not trying to point fingers or lay blame for any accident. Goodness knows if I accidentally caused a wreck that resulted in the death of someone, I wouldn’t need anyone making me feel bad. I would be doing that all on my own and probably for the rest of my life. However, to find a solution you have to determine the root of the problem.
If I’m right, the solution is people driving as the law requires and paying attention. If everyone did that, wrecks would be rare (truly accidental) and not a regular occurrence. Because I do not see that happening, let’s do anything and everything else.
I’ve heard that flashing lights are needed. Yes, it’s a visual reminder to use caution. However, if deaths at that intersection don’t encourage caution, a flashing light probably won’t do it. Put them anyway – better than nothing.
I did hear something that sounded like a viable idea. Reduce the sleep limit to 55 mph in that area. Well, I like that. I liked it so much that I’ve already started. I feel safer going through that intersection at 50 to 55 mph. While my actions will not keep someone from pulling out in front of me, it can reduce the changes of death if someone does. I’m going to continue doing it, even if I get the universal sign of disapproval from other drivers.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.