Granby " Drivers at fault in most accidents on Red Dirt Hill
May 8, 2008
To the Editor:
I feel the need to comment on the editorial about the “public perception” of the dangers of Red Dirt Hill. I, too, have seen many dangers on this section of road and very little of it has to do with the design of the road, although it would be nice if the crown of the hill at the intersection to the YMCA were lowered to allow for better visibility to the west and a westbound turn lane was put in at the intersection to Homestead Hills.
The biggest danger I have seen is the need people seem to have to drive too fast, especially uphill in the passing lane, not going a reasonable speed during inclement weather, not having decent tires, not using four-wheel drive under those conditions, trying to drink morning coffee, eat breakfast, using a cell phone to talk, schedule, or peruse the Internet. In other words, doing all types of things that take focus away from driving.
It has been my experience that the majority of accidents on mountain roads are caused by a driver losing control while going uphill. In most cases, the only victim is that driver trying to speed up too fast and going off the road. Once in a while, however, while going off the road they encounter a vehicle coming the opposite direction and it is has resulted in most of the serious injury and fatal crashes.
The vast majority of drivers here have four-wheel drive capability but most of the crashes I covered, if it was optional, it was not engaged. Reasons being, “I didn’t think I needed it unless I was stuck,” “It hurts my gas mileage to use it” or simply “I didn’t think about it.”
Four-wheel drive will not help you slow down, but it does give you much better traction, keeps you going straighter, and allows you to maintain a steady speed up hills without losing traction.
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Can some things be done to make the road design safer? Sure it can. What will make it even more safe is for people to stop crying to government agencies to make their lives risk-free and start taking more personal responsibility in their own driving behavior and actions. I doubt than many drivers who have lost control had, as their last thought, as they went off into the wild abyss outside the lane lines, “I wish they had designed this road better.” Most all of their thoughts were probably “Oh crap, slow down, slow down, please, please, please.”
Sergeant (retired), Colorado State Patrol