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Another life lost as a result of dangerous Route 50

Truly it is a shame that a 2-month-old baby had to become the latest victim of a traffic accident last weekend on U.S. Route 50 at its intersection with West Virginia Route 23 near Salem.

Tiny David Samuel Peachey of Beaver, Ohio, clung to life in critical condition at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown from last Saturday evening, when the accident happened, until his death Monday night.

One other person, a 15-year-old Salem boy, was in critical condition at Ruby. They were the most seriously injured of the total of 13 who were hurt in the accident, which involved a van traveling on Route 50 and a Ford Taurus on Route 23. Five others suffered extensive injuries.

The site of the collision is one of two dangerous intersections on the four-lane highway from Clarksburg to Doddridge County. The other site is the intersection of West Virginia Route 98, the Davisson Run Road.

Strangely enough, these are the only two Route 50 exits in Harrison County where blinking yellow caution lights had been set in place to warn oncoming motorists in all four directions of the dangerous crossroads. (There are also blinking caution lights at the state Route 18 exit at West Union in Doddridge County.) Stranger still, it has been at these two intersections in Harrison County where the most serious traffic accidents have occurred in recent years.

A stoplight, which had been urged by numerous persons who complained about the intersection, was finally installed at the Route 98 exit, although it's not operational until later in January.

Of the two crossroads, the Route 23 intersection provides by far the less visibility. The Route 98 exit is near the center of a long incline in the roadway, with straightaways in both directions, providing ample visibility.

We believe that driver error is probably the main cause of most of the Route 98 crashes, often resulting from Route 50 motorists misjudging the proximity of crossing vehicles, or perhaps those on the side roads attempting to "beat" oncoming cars on Route 50.

In contrast, the Route 23 intersection is, for all practical purposes, virtually hidden from motorists due to curves on either side of the crossroads. The speed limit on Route 50 was generally increased from 55 mph to 65 mph in the last couple of years.

Just last Thursday morning, there was another accident at the same scene, involving a van and a passenger vehicle and causing more injuries.

To our way of thinking, the Route 23 exit is hardly one where motorists should be playing games of chance. It certainly is not worth a driver risking his or her life to approach the crossroads at 65 miles per hour on Route 50 or faster than the 25-mph limit within 250 feet of the intersection on Route 23, whether traveling north or south.

Two things seem evident to us: Highway engineers once again need to revisit the intersection and the approaching roadways to consider possible alternate approaches; and motorists need to exercise more caution and common sense when nearing the exit.

Unfortunately, it won't be in time to save the infant, who had to pay the price with his life.

Today's editorial reflects the viewpoints of both the Exponent and Telegram editorial boards.

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