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December 21, 2014

Driver education could be key to ending carnage on 275 Bypass

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Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014 9:35 pm | Updated: 9:37 pm, Sat Jul 26, 2014.

It’s encouraging to see that the Alabama Department of Transportation has installed a traffic camera at the intersection of the 275 Bypass and Jackson Trace Road in Talladega. We hope the information gained from the camera will help come up with a solution to make the intersection safer.

There have been 33 wrecks at that intersection in the 20 months since that portion of the bypass opened, with four fatalities. In all, there have been 108 wrecks on the bypass – the old and new portions combined – since the new portion opened just after Thanksgiving of 2012.

Too many wrecks have also occurred at the intersection of 275 and Renfroe Road, literally since the first hour that portion of the highway opened in 1987. 

Both of these intersections are fairly flat and straight, with decent visibility. Talladega Police Capt. Leon Thomas says most of the wrecks have been blamed on driver error.

“Especially at Jackson Trace Road, they’ll stop at the stop sign crossing the bypass, get to the median, and not stop again to check and make sure there’s no traffic coming the other way,” Thomas said. “They just fail to yield.”

ALDOT spokesman Tony Harris said engineering, enforcement and education are the three aspects to consider when improving safety, and while highway officials say more signs and road stripes might help, we think education – and a change in driver behavior – is the key.

Think back to the lessons of driver education classes or the Alabama Drivers Manual, and follow safety tips commonly touted by police and insurance companies. 

Drive with your headlights on in the daytime so other drivers can see you coming. Come to a complete stop at every stop sign. Look both ways and then look again before taking your foot off the brake. Turn the music down and concentrate on what you’re doing. Use the passing lane only for passing, and signal your turns and lane changes ahead of time. Don’t drive after drinking or taking drugs, and don’t fiddle with your phone or text while driving.

This is all common sense, but sometimes that’s not very common.

Be careful out there. The life you save could be your own, especially on the 275 Bypass.

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