Tribune-Courier General Manager
On July 4, 2005 my husband and I were involved in a car crash on Highway 68 near the Purchase Parkway. A drunk driver hit us and fled. Luckily, we were uninjured. In August 2008 my daughter was involved in a crash on the same stretch of road that sent an Illinois woman to the hospital. A few months later she narrowly avoided being hit again turning into our driveway on Highway 68 by punching the accelerator. While she avoided an accident, another woman was hit head-on and transported to the hospital with injuries.
I’m just one person and that’s my story of involvement in accidents on Highway 68 in Marshall County. Ask just about anyone, however, and they have a similar story of being involved in or witnessing accidents on this hazardous stretch of roadway.
The life cut short last week in the fatal car crash in Sharpe is a sad reminder that this is all-too-common an occurrence. Whether the reason is driving under the influence, distracted driving, unfamiliarity with the road, deer or other factors doesn’t really matter to the families left behind. All that really matters at the time is that a loved one won’t be returning home, won’t be there to see their children grow up, won’t be returning to a job they loved.
As I write this the view outside my window is of a packed house at Collier Funeral Home, with last farewells for Jimmy Harper. I can also see the Marshall County jail, where the woman accused of his death is being held. A sad irony, indeed.
In researching the story in this week’s paper, Keith Todd with The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet told me the number of accidents on a roadway can be predicted by traffic volume. The problem with that is that statistics equal human lives and while Todd’s explanation sounds very scientific and logical, I have a hard time reducing even one life lost in a traffic accident to a statistic.
We need increased and consistent patrol along Highway 68 to send the message to motorists that speeding, carelessness and other traffic violations will not be tolerated. Let the message get out that state police and local sheriff’s deputies are stationed along the roadway and we will see an immediate change in driving habits. That message always seems to spread like an epidemic of chicken pox and works to decrease accidents when no other form of education will.
Check the traffic court docket for any given week in Marshall County and you’ll find an astonishing number of DUI cases. Translation: drunk drivers are traveling our roadways at an alarming rate. That means you, your children, your spouse and your friends are passing them on the way to work and school.
The young lady charged with murder and DUI, among other offenses, in last week’s crash has brought the topic to the forefront in conversation. As a community, we need to keep it at the forefront so that the statistics don’t take another life.