A head-on collision in Chatham County, North Carolina (NC), left a married couple critically injured and badly burned. The wreck occurred on May 18, 2014, when a car crossed the center line of O'Kelly Chapel Road near the intersection with NC Highway 571. The driver believed to be at fault for the nearly fatal crash also sustained serious injuries.
Neighbors and witnesses to the collision interviewed by television station WNCN said the curve where the head-on crash happened has a history of being unsafe. “That road just scares me. … It's twisty. It turns. And if you aren't paying attention for a split second you can drift into the opposite lane,” one person said.
Another described the route as consisting of "black snake curves." Requests to have the road studied and possibly improved have not produced the desired results, people told reporters.
Regardless of road design and posted speed limits, all drivers have legal and personal obligations to stay within their lanes. If slowing down considerably and paying extra attention are necessary to safely navigate tricky curves, then people must reduce their speeds and avoid distractions. Failing to exercise caution puts a driver and everyone else on the road in danger of suffering injures and getting killed.
As true and irrefutable as the need for driving responsibility are, traffic engineers and the government officials who build and maintain roads have duties to ensure that the streets and highways people use are as safe as possible. Reducing and straightening curves, setting reasonable speed limits and posting signs warning of narrow lanes or vehicles merging and turning from hard-to-see places have to be priorities for engineers and elected officials.