By Karis Rogerson
With the tornado warnings of Nov. 17, the dangers of the roads surrounding Wilmore and, by extension, students at Asbury University, are highlighted.
The narrow, curvy roads around the central Kentucky town have posed dangers for many Asbury students in the past.
In early 2010, five Asbury students had an accident on highway 29, north of the intersection with Drake Lane. According to Zack Klemme, a 2010 Asbury graduate, he and four other students were driving in an SUV. “We were headed north toward Lexington with snow and ice on the road,” Klemme explained. “A woman in a southbound vehicle lost control coming out of a curve and ended up in our lane.”
Deanna Morono, another 2010 graduate who was in the vehicle at the time of the collision, said their SUV hit the other car head-on, went off the side of the road and rolled twice. “It came to rest on its side,” Morono said. “Those of us in the front had to crawl out the passenger-side window… I unloaded the passengers in the back by opening the back hatch.”
Although the Asbury students suffered minor injuries — a few bloody noses and minor cuts, according to Morono — Klemme said that the SUV he was in was totaled and added that the driver of the other car was taken to the hospital in an accident.
Physical damage was not the only problem, though. Morono explained that she has hated driving in the snow ever since the accident. “[I] have minor panic attacks when I know it’s going to snow and I have to drive somewhere,” she said.
Morono is not the only Asbury student to have a bad experience on the roads in the winter.
Sophomore Christi Sexton was in an accident on Jessamine Station Road on Feb. 21, 2013, when she hit several patches of ice and her car spun out. “Once I hit the ice, I just spiraled out of control,” she explained.
Sexton is still going to physical therapy for the torn labrum in her shoulder and still suffers from whiplash. She echoed Morono’s fear, saying, “[The many accidents are] making me afraid to drive in the winter now.”
According to an official police report, the Wilmore City Police Department responded to 222 vehicle collisions between Nov. 19, 2008, and Nov. 19, 2013, of which 195 resulted in property damage and totaled 32 injuries. That makes an average of 3.7 accidents per month.
Tom Moberly, a frequent visitor of the Marathon gas station located at the Y-shaped intersection of Lexington Road and highway 68, said he sees about one accident per month outside the gas station alone. Moberly believes the road is especially dangerous because of the confusion over who has the right of way. One of the accidents he witnessed involved a man who had driven that road for years, believing he had the right of way, before he was involved in a collision.
Morono and Klemme, however, do not believe that any one section of road near Wilmore is more dangerous than the others. When asked what road he believed was most dangerous, Klemme said, “Really most every road outside town, except for 68 between the ‘Y’ and Lexington.” Morono added, “I think all the one-lane roads are dangerous because obviously people are passing very close to each other on roads that don’t have a lot of traffic.”
All three students agreed that there are things that could be done to make the roads safer during the winter months. Morono said, “I think they could salt the roads or pre-treat them with whatever the best treatment is when they know it’s going to snow or be icy.”
Sexton agreed, saying, “I think if there had been salt, then that wouldn’t have happened, because… there were little patches everywhere, and that’s why I couldn’t ever get off of the ice.”
Klemme added an exhortation for current students to be careful when driving on icy roads. “Just be smart, don’t drive fast on roads you don’t know or through curves and remember that there’s really very little margin for error on these roads, even for experienced drivers.” Morono added that students shouldn’t drive dangerously because, “Your life isn’t worth the risk.”