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Pedestrians risk danger on county roads
September 18, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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With an overgrowth of weeds, more dust and the approaching harvest season, both travelers and pedestrians on county roads need to keep safety in mind.

Scotts Bluff County Roads Superintendent Bob Bennett said pedestrians sometimes walk along county roads and the same traffic rules apply as in town.

“Motorists always need to yield to pedestrians,” Bennett said. “But pedestrians also need to be aware that traffic is on the road. I would suggest they also wear reflective vests so they’re more visible. They should also walk against traffic so they can see what’s coming.”

As sunflowers and other weeds grow tall during the summer months, sightlines at some of the intersections are obscured. The county has a policy that on dirt roads, the graders will back drag around stop signs and intersections to keep the weeds down. On paved roads, the intersections are mowed.

“If we’re not aware of a problem intersection, people will call us,” Bennett said. “We’re happy to do that because we want the sight distances to be clear.”

Bennett said the state speed limit on gravel roads is 50 mph, but he personally would like to see it lowered because dust often obscures the drivers’ view.

“Drivers need to pay attention to signs,” he said. “We put up a lot of new intersection signs to help. And we try to eliminate problems like washboard roads wherever we can, but that depends on moisture.”

The best advice Bennett gave for travel on county roads is to slow down. “You can expect an intersection about every mile; that’s how the roads are laid out. Whether there’s a stop sign at an intersection or not, drivers should slow down. Nearly every time a vehicle leaves the road, it’s because of excessive speed.”

He added that stop signs aren’t placed in areas of seasonal crops, like corn. But drivers should assume there’s a stop sign there and drive accordingly.

“I haven’t seen many pedestrians on the county roads,” he said. “But they should wear reflective vests both day and night for safety. And be aware that traffic might not be aware of you.”
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