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Road safety puzzle

Feb 21, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Accidents keep happening at the Honor Farm intersection

We're not sure how many times a paragraph in this newspaper has included the words "another car wreck at the honor Farm Road intersection, but the word "many" comes to mind.

Or, more accurately, "too many."

It has happened twice already in the new year, and on Monday a newspaper reader described a frightening incident at the same spot when a car on the main highway suddenly turned left onto adjoining Country Acres Road as two pickups and an SUV pulling a trailer either slammed on the brakes or swerved to avoid a likely disaster.

That's the unreported statistic in highway safety data at Honor Farm Road or anywhere else -- the number of near misses in which dumb luck is the only thing preventing a wreck.

Complainers rail at the "lack of response" to the Honor Farm intersection problems, but that's not fair. Highway safety planners haven't been standing still. The area around the intersection has seen significant safety measures put in place in recent years, and at considerable expense.

Presumably, these safety steps have had a positive effect. But the wrecks keep happening, often enough that mere statistical coincidence won't suffice as an explanation.

There's just something about that intersection, even after the improvements have been made.

Further, there is an unpreventable element of risk involved in driving automobiles. The safest road in the world can't prevent every wreck. We humans are too imperfect for that.

Smart people have thought about the problem for years, and some good ideas have been put in place. It is odd, however, that the speed limit through the notorious intersection is 65 mph on the main highway.

Cars that have left the city limits seconds before are accelerating quickly. Similarly, vehicles coming into town often are trying to milk the 65 mph speed zone as much a possible before hitting the 45 mph and 30 mph zones in quick succession not far past the Honor Farm intersection.

There are numbers, rules, regulations that must be considered before a change in a highway speed zone can take place. Good enforcement of the speed limit also is an important factor, whether it is 65 or 35.

At this point, however, anecdotal evidence seems at least to suggest that reducing the speed limit at this demonstrably dangerous place has merit as a public safety practice.

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