Road Safety Advice For Students

By D.C. Miles
Junior Editor

tv_News 10dbMONTICELLO – Whether the student is a commuter or a resident traveling to and from school on break, traffic in the area surrounding UAM can be dangerous.

   Ben Crossett, emergency medical technician at Southeast Emergency Medical Services, explained several situations drivers encounter unexpectedly.

   “We’ve worked a lot of wrecks on 425 whether it be a college entrance or Old Warren Road and 425 or 278 and 425 or in front of Wal-Mart,” Crossett said.

   It is common for wrecks in the city area. However, one might not think about the entire county in regards to traffic and safety.

   Crossett explains quite a few areas where he has received calls from accidents in the rural areas of the county.

   “County wide, it’d have to be out toward Dermott, Pine Hill, or out toward McGehee. We haven’t worked too many out toward Wilmar,” Crossett said.

   However, recently a fatality occurred in Wilmar from an 18-wheeler colliding with a van.

   Crossett explained one of the best solutions is to just pay attention, especially on HWY 425 during rush hour.

   Crossett said that the wider roads suffice for safer passage than the curvy and narrow two-lane roads.

   He referred to the fatality, saying if someone hits a vehicle on the other side of the road out toward Wilmar, they would have to cross at least two to four lanes of traffic. Furthermore, he said the roads to McGehee and Dermott are two-lane roads, and it doesn’t take anything to hit the front of your car.

   Crossett reminded drivers again to simply pay attention and even slow down. He also said it is against the law to text and drive.

   “We know that is against the law to text and drive. If you have a wreck and you kill someone and they go back and look at your phone and see that you texted at the time you had the accident, you’re going to be in trouble. You can get prison time,” Crossett said.

   Eddy Deaton, chief of police at Monticello Police Department explained the main issue of traffic in the area. He said, “The biggest problem is you got three schools in a small area.” He referred to UAM, Drew Central and Monticello School Districts being located within a square mile of each campus.

   Deaton explained that the officers meet every year before school with each school’s officials and collaborate to fix issues with traffic, whether it concerns rerouting traffic or just the flow of it. He said, “We have made changes from that.”

   Crossett fears the worsening of traffic as the Interstate 69 Corridor comes into play. He believes more commuters will come in and out of town.

   “The town is going to grow. When the town grows, accidents grow. But there will be benefits, UAM will grow, the fire department will grow. But accidents grow too. The speed limit on the interstate will increase. You just have to pay attention to these two lane roads and pay attention to other vehicles,” he said.

   Crossett mentioned fatigued driving in that it can cause major issues, even fatal wrecks. He said he worked an accident recently where fatigue played a part in that. He also said you just have to know your limits. If you’re tired, you need to get off the road. Pull over, get out and stretch.

   “It’s starting to cool off. Get out of the car and let that cold air hit you,” he said.

   Crossett stated he was very certain fatigue plays a part in vehicular accidents. Whether the person admits it or not, it can be figured out.

   Crossett said, if you are driving, you should have common sense to know you need to quit driving if you’re tired. He said it seems like in the world we live in now, we live off energy drinks. It might help a little bit, but the crash you get after you drink is double before you drank it. He said you just have to use your brain.

   “It’s one thing to be tired, but having extreme fatigue to where you can’t hold your eyes open and are drifting, you’ve reached exhaustion. We can drive down the road and yawn, but if we’re not dozing off at the wheel, it’s just exhaustion,” Crossett said.

   He said micro-sleeping is a term. Your eyes can be wide awake, and all of a sudden you startle, and if you have a gap of a split second and you jerk. You just dozed off, you have micro-slept. If you reach that point, you need to get off the road.

   “If a police officer comes up behind you, explain the situation. They’ll escort you to a safe place. Everybody is here to help each other, but use your head. You have to use your head. The brain will shut off sometimes,” he said.

   With high traffic volumes during the school year, there are common situations where problem areas worsen.

   Crossett believes this especially in concern to the HWY 83 and HWY 425 junction just a few hundred feet north of the main entrance to campus.

   “The problem is people coming off 83 Spur and cutting across traffic going to UAM,” he said.

   He also said that the commuters who live in University Pointe Apartments are often the result of this issue; especially those who travel from the 83 spur instead of the front entrance on 425.

   The junction itself causes problems due to its angled stop at 425.

   “It’s the angle. A person has to look back – it’s not look straight to your left, straight to your right … you actually do have to look back to the right.”

   However, Crossett explains that not all wrecks require medical attention. He said just because there is an accident does not mean it requires an ambulance. But. he said it does require a police officer.

   Crossett provided advice to the impatient driver. He said if you are running five minutes late for class, just run five minutes late for class.

   “When you start crowding a lot of things into a small area, you just know accidents are going to happen. For the most part, they’ve paid attention. We haven’t done anything major out there,” he said.

   He said if there is any way to make the area safer, that it should be considered and remedied.

   “I wish the intersection at 83 and 425 was straighter. I wish when you came up to that stop sign that you actually came up to the stop sign at a straighter way than having to look back and to the right. I think that’s one of the major reasons – if there is a wreck out there. It seems that when we have an accident right there, it’s because of that intersection, especially during school morning traffic,” Crossett said.

   Crossett said he thinks it is something that could be looked at. He said a study needs to be done to see the number of accidents in that area to see if speed, fatigue, the 83 intersection or the college intersection is the problem.

   “All that has to be studied before anything major is going to happen,” he said.

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