Last month, two people died as a result of a head-on crash a few miles east of Cooper. KETR’s Mark Haslett takes a look at the safety record of a stretch of road familiar to everyone who travels between Cooper and Sulphur Springs.
Mark Haslett: Early on the morning of August 13, a small car and a dump truck collided on State Highway 19. The wreck happened just north of the South Sulphur River. The driver of the car, Vivian Yvonne Brewer of Cooper, died at the scene of the accident. Her husband, O.G. Brewer, was flown to a Plano hospital, where he died six days later. The driver of the dump truck suffered minor injuries and was treated locally. KETR’s Cindy Roller reported on the crash. Some online readers commented on social media and on KETR.org that they considered that stretch of road unsafe. No one found fault with the highway itself, but some said that the speed limit there was too high. Tim McAlavy of the Texas Department of Transportation says that so far, the state hasn’t received any complaints or concerns from the public regarding that stretch of State Highway 19.
Tim McAlavy: No, we’ve had no complaints on that part of Highway 19 at all.
Haslett: However, McAlavy also says that TxDOT is taking a look at that stretch of road, and that speed limits there could be lowered, depending on the results of the review.
McAlavy: Yes, it is possible. Any time we have a fatality or incapacitating or injury-producing accident on one of our district roadways, our district traffic safety review committee looks at the accident report from law enforcement. And we will be reviewing this accident and law enforcement report at our next traffic safety review meeting. And it’s entirely possible that we’ll push the speed limit down right there.
Haslett: The speed limit is 75 there. Approaching the river from the north , the road curves. There’s a yellow, diamond-shaped sign posting a suggested speed of 60. The legal speed limit, though, is still 75 north of the bridge. Those yellow signs one sees near curves, hills and other features indicate areas where slowing down isn’t mandatory, but is a good idea.
McAlavy: Correct – the suggested safe speed. And as a driver myself, as I’ve gotten older and as I’ve driven more, I pay a lot more attention to that. Especially as many people as we have on the roadways now - it’s just a good idea to watch for any and all signs and use your best judgment. Just because the speed limit is 75, doesn’t mean you have to go 75.
Haslett: TxDOT has accident data going back to 2010 for that area. Over the last five years and eight months, the crash that killed the Brewers was the only accident there that resulted in death. Over that time, there were no wrecks causing what TxDOT calls incapacitating injuries. Not counting the recent accident, there have been five other crashes in that area since 2010. Three resulted in what the state terms non-incapacitating injuries and two didn’t cause any injuries. Those data cover the part of State Highway 19 between State Highway 154 in Delta County and County Road 4803 in Hopkins County. If you have a safety concern about any TxDOT roadway, it’s easy to talk to the agency about it. You can find more information at our website, KETR.org.