• 63°

‘Blind curve’ on KY 694 needs a warning sign

News accounts indicate a teenager died, and three others were injured, Saturday night March 17, in a crash on Union Mill Road, KY 694, a state highway.

News accounts also indicate a vehicle was headed westbound when it “lost control” and appeared to over correct, crossed to the other side of the road, and hit a tree.

It is relatively common to see news accounts related to a highway crash stating that there was “loss of control.”

The question seems never asked, what might have caused the loss of control?

I am concerned that the “loss of control,” and subsequent crash in this case, occurred because there was no warning signage related to the tight-radius, perhaps ninety degree curve, that is all but invisible to a driver approaching the curve.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is responsible for specification, installation, and maintenance of warning signage on Kentucky’s highways.

When I visited the location of the crash on the morning of March 18, I did not observe any warning signage alerting or reminding a driver westbound (perhaps northbound) on KY 694 of the curve some distance past the junction of KY 694 and Old Railroad Road.

The curve addressed here is what I term a “blind curve,” meaning a driver cannot perceive the direction and sharpness of as the curve is approached. Such a curve deserves effective advance warning signage, including an “advisory speed” plaque, and perhaps directional warning signage within and throughout the curve. Such signage was apparently not present at the time of this crash.

Crash investigators (usually police or sheriff’s deputies) do not typically, if ever, address whether the absence of effective warning signage might have been a critical factor in a crash — apparently this is because specification of warning signage is the purview of “engineers” as provided by a Federal Regulation entitled The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). For the police or other crash investigators to opine about warning signage would put them in the position of evaluating “engineers” which some would say they are not qualified to do.

The driver in this case presumably had driven an appreciable distance without hitting anything — until entering a curve the driver could not see on the approach, one for which there was no warning — and a crash occurred.

While warning signs are not a panacea for highway crashes, if they are not in place where they should be, they cannot serve their purpose.

One fatality, three injured. Who will answer?

GERARD GERHARD

Jessamine County