Safety improvements planned

DALLAS -- The intersection of Clow Corner and Riddell roads southeast of Dallas has been the subject of a series of safety improvements since 2010.This September, new elements will be added -- red flashing lights on top of the stop signs on the south and north sides of Riddell Road at the intersection. The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved the installation Tuesday morning.Commissioner Craig Pope said the flashing red lights may wake drivers out of the "mental paralysis" they are under while driving the road."Statistically, there is more and more of that kind of behavior at that intersection," he said.Despite clearing brush, installing rumble strips, putting orange flags on the "Stop Ahead" sign and even moving power poles to improve visibility, the accident rate hasn't declined enough, said Todd Whitaker, the county's public works director."We've made a number of improvements to that intersection, and it seems like there have been more accidents," he said.He said the measures should have made the intersection safer, but there may be other factors at play."There could be a couple things happening, the use of cell phones and smart phones are a significant distraction," Whitaker said.The other possibility, ironically, could be the product for the improved visibility. Without the perception that the intersection is as dangerous as it once was, drivers are being more careless, Whitaker said.Whitaker said another flashing light at or around the intersection may be enough to draw the attention of drivers to the upcoming stop."This would be one extra measure to prevent `blow through' accidents, where drivers just blow through the stop sign," he said.Whitaker said the cost of installing the light would be between $8,000 and $9,000.Whitaker said more options remain if the flashing light doesn't work. However one of those options -- making the intersection a four-way stop -- has been tried in the past with limited success. Others, such as realigning the intersection and installing an overhead flashing light, would need significant design planning to avoid creating even more problems.Whitaker said an overhead light may confuse drivers on Clow Corner into thinking Riddell Road is nearby Highway 99W. If that happens, chances are drivers will come to an unexpected complete stop and cause accidents.

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