Preventable Tragedy

July 4, 2009 09:16 – 09:16

I don’t have all of the relevant statistics, but quotes in the Coloradoan say that the stretch of Highway 287 between Laramie and Fort Collins has been the scene of a large number of fatal crashes. This is where my daughter was killed on Thursday afternoon. We have not visited the site of the crash, but we were told that it was at about mile marker 378, near the crest of a hill. I have driven that road and can attest first hand that it is filled with opportunities for tragedy.

You can avoid this road by continuing along I-80 to I-25 near Cheyenne. It adds 30 miles to the trip. All things considered, anyone traveling in that area should do precisely that.

Our Garmin GPS has a series of things you can tell it to avoid—U-Turns, Unpaved roads, Toll roads, and a few others. It does not have an option that would tell it to avoid non-Interstate highways when an Interstate is available. You can tell it to do the reverse, however.

It would be really helpful if you could tell it to avoid dangerous roads, and for that option to be enabled by default. As it turns out, from a safety standpoint, this could be as effective or more effective than seatbelts and airbags, which were not enough to save Katie. In time, we will make this suggestion to Garmin, Magellan, and others. We hope that others will join in making this kind of suggestion. We’re convinced that if Katie’s Garmin had advised her to take I-25 instead of Highway 287, she would still be alive.

Alternatively, Wyoming is in the process of fixing their part of this death trap. Colorado does not seem to be willing to take the steps necessary. That’s very sad, especially for all of the parents and children who have lost and will continue to lose people they love, largely due to a poorly conceived road that was not engineered as well as it could be with safety as the goal. Ours is not the only loss that has occurred there. In 2001, the lives of 8 University of Wyoming athletes were lost in that area, as well. Many others have died on that road, as well. Pressure needs to be brought to bear, even if only to install red signs and lights warning drivers about how extremely dangerous the road is in the vicinity of each fatal crash that has occurred.

A sign on I-80 advising southbound drivers to avoid that dangerous road and use I-25 instead could save lives as well. This, of course, could be done by Wyoming or by the federal agency that oversees interstate highways. It’s not that hard, and not without precedent. In Pennsylvania, there are signs warning about US 30.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.