A Minco man died Thursday morning after his pickup truck crashed into a semi-truck just north of Union City. The intersection along Highway 81 where it happened is known for being dangerous.
Union City has worked with ODOT to reduce the speed limit on the busy stretch of highway, but this is just the latest in a series of serious crashes. When the Love's truck stop was built at Highway 81 and Southwest 59th Street two years ago, crashes at the intersection increased drastically, and almost all of them happened the same way.
“Usually a vehicle pulling off of 59th Street from the Love’s parking lot, and the southbound traffic can’t slow down in time,” said Sgt. Adam Taylor.
That is what happened to 89-year-old Donald Taylor. As he turned north onto the highway, a semi carrying a 70,000-pound load came barreling towards him.
“Whenever he only has a small reactionary time, he’s not going to be able to get that much weight slowed down,” Sgt. Taylor said of the semi driver.
Sgt. Taylor said this is the seventh major accident at the intersection since 2015, but it is the first since August, when the speed limit dropped from 70 miles per hour to 55 miles per hour just before the southbound traffic reaches the truck stop.
Police say they still see drivers speeding every day, but ODOT representatives say lowering the speed limit too much can pose a hazard as well.
ODOT spokesperson Lisa Shearer-Salim said the real problem is “conflict points,” where “you have slower-turning traffic meeting basically almost interstate corridor-type traffic.”
Both police and ODOT urge drivers to be aware of others on the road, especially when pulling into oncoming traffic or approaching a busy business. Meantime, state crews will be conducting a safety audit at the intersection, which is procedure for any fatal crash on a highway.
Shearer-Salim said, “That’ll be several different issues that our crews will take a close look at, and evaluate whether there’s anything that cannot be done or whether it was other issues that cause the accident.”
Sgt. Taylor said the next possible action would be installing some sort of traffic signal at the intersection, but that would be a lengthy process through ODOT.