Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 12, 2012

County roads need extra safety

Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol wants to educate the motoring public of the dangers on county roads.

The numbers show just how dangerous it can be on county roads, said OHP Captain Ronnie Hampton, who is commander of Troop F with headquarters in Ardmore.

Last year, nearly 32 percent of the 1,451 collisions investigated in the seven county Troop F area occurred on county roads. Troop F covers Carter, Love, Garvin, Murray, Pontotoc, Johnston and Marshall counties.

Within the region Garvin County led the way with the most county road accidents investigated by troopers in 2011.

A total of 107 accidents came here, followed by 104 in Pontotoc County, 83 in Carter County, 52 in Marshall County, 47 in Love County, 34 in Murray County and 28 in Johnston County.

“The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is staffed to provide visibility on interstate, U.S. and state highways,” Hampton said. “We don’t have the manpower to provide a visibility on the nearly 8,000 miles of county roads inside the troop F area.”

“We absolutely must have the public’s help in understanding the dangers that can be present on county roads.”

Adding to the numbers, last year about 54 percent of all collisions were one vehicle collisions, where a single vehicle leaves the roadway and strikes a fixed object such as power pole, bridge abutment, tree or the vehicle overturns, Hampton said.

In the majority of one vehicle county road collisions, seat belts are not worn.

According to Hampton, a total of 16 people were killed on county roads in 2011 and every collision involved a single vehicle that struck a fixed object or overturned. Only two drivers wore seatbelts, while the other 14 did not.

“Single vehicle collisions can be thought of as a point in time collision,” Hampton said. “The majority of the time our investigation revealed the driver was distracted by dropping something, using a cellular phone or some other distraction.

“When this occurs it’s too late to buckle up. When the vehicle strikes a fixed object the collision forces occur within 100 to 150 milliseconds, depending on the severity. All the damage and injury to the occupants occur in this time,” he said.

Hampton encourages all drivers on county roads to wear their safety belt, obey the speed limit and pay attention.