Three fatal crashes have occurred on Veterans Outer Loop in less than nine months, a tragic series of events that has captured the attention of Barren County residents and officials.
While opinions are mixed on the best approach to improving safety, many who frequent the loop agree that driver awareness is the primary factor in the incidents along the roadway.
The first of the three most recent fatal collisions was at the loop’s intersection with Franks Mill Road on June 4, when 46-year-old Kathy Cross of Horse Cave was killed when the car she was driving was struck by a dump truck. After more crashes at the intersection in subsequent days, the Kentucky Department of Highways launched a “traffic safety audit,” installed more-visible signage and moved stop strips closer to the intersection so drivers could see approaching traffic earlier.
Since July 1, three crashes with injuries and a dozen noninjury collisions have occurred at that location, according to statistics gathered by the Barren County Sheriff’s Office through the Barren-Metcalfe County Emergency Communications Center.
On Sept. 30, 50-year-old Glenn Alan Kingrey of Glasgow died when the motorcycle he was driving was struck by an SUV at the loop’s intersection with Happy Valley Road. And on Jan. 22, 69-year-old Delmar Lloyd of Lejunior died when the Chevy Tracker he was a passenger in during a funeral procession on U.S. 68-Ky. 80 East collided with a 1998 Pontiac.
In 2010, Ricky D. Ervin, 54, of Summer Shade, died in a two-vehicle collision between U.S. 68-Ky. 80 West and Ky. 90 near Tractor Supply Co.
Aside from the fatal incidents, dozens of injury and noninjury accidents have occurred since segments of the loop began opening several years ago.
Brooke Dilley, a supervisor at the Dollar General store on U.S. 68-Ky. 80 East, where Lloyd was killed Jan. 22, said that even before that incident she thought more traffic signals or at least caution lights should be installed, “because people treat it like a parkway.”
It is common for other vehicles to pass her when she’s going the speed limit, and “this is a pretty long distance to not really have to stop or anything,” she said of the stretch of the loop between that 68-80 East and U.S. 31-E.
From the storefront windows, “you see people run those red lights constantly,” Dilley said.
Scott Morgan, the store manager, said he doesn’t drive on the loop as often as some, but he sees a need for a flashing caution light at Franks Mill because “it’s such a long way across the intersection.”
Jessica Long, a customer at the store, said she really believes the loop is dangerous, but because of drivers, not the infrastructure.
“People need to pay more attention,” she said.
Jo Ann Caffee, an employee at Sally Beauty Salon Equipment & Supplies, can see the loop’s intersection with Ky. 90 from the store. Her children live in Edmonton but work in Glasgow and drive the loop nearly every day. Caffee travels it once or twice a week and enjoys the convenience it offers.
She said the state could install rumble strips or install other safety features, but none would likely help until drivers focus on the road.
“People have to get off the phones and concentrate on driving,” she said.