In Clay County, especially after the death of Brazil teen Kellyn Andrews, some persons have questioned the safety of the community's intersections and roads. Some of them, including the intersection of CR 700 North and SR 59, where the aforementioned Andrews was killed, are unsafe in normal conditions and can be even worse when adverse weather conditions come into play.
Sheriff Robert Carter agrees that many intersections and roads are dangerous, but says the way they are handled by drivers is also a factor.
"The intersection of 700 North and 59 can be dangerous," he said. "We get collisions there when it rains, snows, or fogs. It's not the safest intersection in the county, but it's not the most dangerous either."
As far as fixing these intersections goes, he said, as much as can be done has been.
"I think the Clay County Highway Department does an excellent job of forewarning people," said Carter, "but if you're not going to pay attention to the road and its surroundings, there's not much we can do." It is to be noted that Carter was not talking about Andrews' death, but wrecks in general around the county.
Carter said that there used to be statistics on the county's intersections, but the state has changed reporting methods. He did say, however, that there are intersections that are more dangerous than the one on SR 59.
"There are definitely more dangerous ones in Clay County. The offset by Beville Road and 59 gets quite a few wrecks, as do places like the area by Wal-Mart, where there's no traffic control. As far as roads themselves go, Kennedy's Crossing can get rather dangerous at certain times of the day because students prefer to take back roads instead of state roads."
He also mentioned the intersection of U.S. 40 and Waterworks Road.
Ron Chamberlain, Clay County Highway Supervisor, says that he thinks a good job is being done on roads in the county.
"We've pretty much done all we can do," he said. "Weeds and tall corn can be a problem in the summer, but we take care of that as best we can."
"We mow and put up all kinds of signs," he continued.
Chamberlain also said that a lot of wrecks have to do with human problems, not the roads themselves.
"In my opinion, I don't think any one intersection is more dangerous than another," he said when asked which he thought was the most dangerous intersection in town. "I personally feel that driver attention and rate of speed have a lot to do with wrecks. Any time we repave a road, we get requests for speed bumps because people drive too quickly. Smother roads can create problems."
There have been discussions to fix the problems, he said, but nothing is set in stone. It takes an ordinance every time he wants to put up a new sign, but the town is working to fix that.
"You always need an ordinance to pass a sign, but they're trying to pass an ordinance that allows us to put up signs when we want.
"New stop signs and other signs can create wrecks if people familiar with the road run them."
Chamberlain said that there are ways to avoid wrecks, though, and most of them are things people should be doing anyway.
"Wear your seat belt, of course, drive slower, and read road signs. We put up signs where we notice a lot of wrecks, so don't just breeze right past one without noticing it."
"Be prepared," he said. "Go slower on county roads, pay attention, be prepared, and always wear your seat belt."