Editorials

Illinois state highways don't kill people. People kill people.

Community demands change on Illinois 3 after crash kills mom of 6

Nearly 4,000 metro-east residents are demanding change on Illinois 3 due to what many are calling "deadly" conditions on the highway following a crash that killed a 41-year-old mother of six Feb 26. On Monday night, Columbia's police chief spoke a
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Nearly 4,000 metro-east residents are demanding change on Illinois 3 due to what many are calling "deadly" conditions on the highway following a crash that killed a 41-year-old mother of six Feb 26. On Monday night, Columbia's police chief spoke a

At one of the local spots where the road merges from two lanes to one, a car sped up and nosed in ahead of another driver — just missing a collision. The aggressive driver's car had a "baby on board" sign in the rear window.

Would you blame the highway engineers for failing to continue a two-lane road? Would you blame police for not being present to halt aggressive driving?

Or would you blame someone who warns others to be cautious for the sake of a baby but then drives with callous disregard for the children of others?

We make choices on a daily basis that our time is more valuable than that of others, so we fudge on the left turn signal. Oncoming traffic may get the green, but they can wait as we run the red to shave a few moments from our travel time.

The highway looks like an interstate highway with four lanes separated by a median, so we drive at interstate speeds. We're saving time as we are first to the next stoplight?

And when we misjudge or cause others to react badly, what then?

Emily Webb was killed Feb. 26 when a dump truck and her SUV collided at the intersection of Illinois 3 and Veterans Parkway in Columbia. Her six children were hurt in the crash. Her high school sweetheart was left to raise their children alone.

About 3,700 folks have joined an online petition to get government to "do something." It's good to be engaged.

But Illinois 3 is fairly straight and divided to avoid head-on collisions. The speed limits are lower in congested areas. There are traffic signals. There's a giant looping interchange with Illinois 158 that fixed a fatal intersection in the 1960s.

Maybe pedestrian overpasses, digital speed monitoring signs, lower speed limits and speed traps would help even more.

But the one certainty is that an army of highway engineers and police officers will never have the same impact as everyone pledging to follow the speed limit, respect the yellow light and put down the smart phone and cheeseburger.

We hope Emily Webb's children recover.

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