The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 12, 2013

Turnpike turmoil

Drivers, especially truckers, need to be mindful of the speed limit and weather conditions


— The great, always-wise Will Rogers once said “You can’t legislate intelligence and common sense into people.”

Yes, there are speed limit signs posted along the highway on the West Virginia Turnpike.

This week, Greg Barr, manager of the W.Va. Division of Highways, revealed that the DOH is conducting a “skid test” in an effort to solve the question as to why so many truck wrecks are occurring in lanes near the former Memorial Tunnel.

“But we really think the issue there is (vehicles) going too fast for conditions,” Barr said.

This particular 4-mile stretch has seen an unusually high number of accidents — especially in wet conditions.

Hello?

“We have signs posted in all those curves, pictures of trucks tipping, lots of alerts. We already had slowed the speed limit years ago to 60.”

Sharp turns.

High speeds.

Big rigs.

Rainy conditions.

What part of this equation mystifies the persons behind the wheel?

And what’s the rush? Or is it merely a situation in which drivers are simply not paying attention to their surroundings?

In either case, it’s simply scary for the drivers who navigate the turnpike on a regular basis, carefully negotiating the twists and turns of our beautiful, yet sometimes dangerous roadway, out of necessity.

And for the increased amount of out-of-town drivers expected this summer?

We bid our best wishes — and hopes for clear weather.

While officials are not able to push a common sense agenda any higher, we do hope that the DOH discoveries in its testing, along with increased patrols enforcing the current speed limits, will help greatly minimize the dangers of traveling the ’pike.

But while there are still those hell-bent on taking a turn at maximum speed and minimal alertness, we can just hold our breath and say a prayer.

Rogers may have never met a man he didn’t like, but we’re quite sure he didn’t have the opportunity to ride the turnpike beside of a semi trucker, precariously barreling down the pavement.

That experience may have made even this most affable gentleman grit his teeth.