Investigation: caught left handed

Matthew Drachman, Assistant Editor

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Entering high school can be an intimidating and anxious time. Students find themselves at a new school with new people and new teachers. Some students even find themselves with new car keys in their hands. A lot of students will have to drive themselves to school. As a matter of fact, the DMV says that is the most common reason that young people get licenses in their teenage years is to drive themselves to school.


However, driving comes with risks. These risks could lead to injury and even death. According to the CDC, car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens 13-17 within the United States.


Students at Riverton High are familiar with such occurrences because one intersection near the school is famous for them.


The intersection that most people travel through when coming to Riverton High is 12600 S. 2700 W.. Every morning this intersection is flooded with parents dropping their kids off, students trying to get to school, travelers filling their tanks at the gas station, and many people who are just trying to get to work. This makes this intersection a very travelled one, and, in the growing area that Riverton is, it makes it a very fertile ground for crashes.


In recent months this intersection has seen a lot of deadly crashes, one of which involved a student from Riverton High itself. According to the Unified Police Department, in the last year alone the intersection of 126th and 27th has had 12 reported accidents, 2 non reportable, and 1 hit and run from the dates of January 1st to October 10th 2018. These crashes and accidents led to the injury of 4 people and the death of another.


As far as crashes were concerned, the only other sections of road that could compare in crashes were the north and south entrances to Bangerter Highway. However, 126th and 27th was the only intersection that was the site of a fatal crash.


So the question remains, what is it about this intersection that has lead to so much pain and suffering?


The Causes


Many students at Riverton pass through 126th and 27th to get to school in the mornings and to get home in the afternoons. One such student is RHS junior Colton Hopkin. Colton wanted to start driving to school as soon as he got his license because it would make him a “big boy”.


Colton is familiar with the accidents that have happened at 126th and 27th and believes that the left hand turns are the main cause. He stated, “Most of those crashes happen because of the left hand turns that people make. They just don’t time it right.”


SBOs Joey and Ashley agree with Colton.


The SBOs also pointed to the line of sight down the street. As mentioned previously, making a left hand turns can be difficult. The main reasoning is because a person who wishes to make a left has to first yield to oncoming traffic. This is typical, but, again, timing comes into play.


However, if a person does not have a clear line of sight to make that judgment, it can lead to people getting into an accident.


Another cause people have pointed to is the current density of the area. City Council Woman Tawnee McCay spoke on this subject, saying, “New settlements increase the congestion. We have these new proposed settlements that have Riverton’s population in about a tenth of its area.”


The more people who are on the road, the more likely an accident is going to happen. The roads were not designed for the amount of people that are using them today.


The question remains: how has this intersection affected Riverton?

Last year there was a major accident that involved a student here at Riverton. Austin Cherrington lost her sister in the crash.


For legal reasons, Austin could not talk about the specifics of the crash; however, she was able to provide one point on that matter, saying, “It was a misjudgment on my part. I can’t say too much more than that.”


When asked if she believed that the design of the intersection leads to crashes like hers, Austin stated, “Yes it does. There is not enough space. The fact that there wasn’t signs to turn was ridiculous. They later added them after my crash happened which I think has helped.”


When asked if she believed that there was a correlation between the amount of student drivers and the amount of accidents in the intersection, Austin responded by saying, “I do not think so. It is just because of how busy the intersection itself is.”




What can be done to help prevent these accidents?


City Councilwoman Tawnee McCay discussed the concern of traffic safety in Riverton by saying, “I think it is huge! I have a responsibility for the citizens of Riverton for their safety and providing functions for the citizens.”


Councilwoman Tawnee discussed possible solutions to the crash problem at the aforementioned intersection. Any such solution would be very costly, considering how compact the area already is. Tawnee explained, “The intersection is tough because it is between 3 schools, and it is a high traffic area, as well as the new drivers in the area.”


According to Tawnee, UDOT, which is in charge of the roads in Utah, is trying to make the signals longer to provide safer transitions for drivers during shift time.


Other solutions have been implemented for the time being, such as the new left turn signals.




The placement of this intersection creates much of the danger. It is in the center of a highly dense area, between several schools, a gas station, and a commercial area. The intersection being located between two highways (Bangerter and I-15) only adds to the density of traffic. Added danger arises with new drivers on the road rushing to school and others rushing to work in the mornings and kids rushing home in the afternoons. These reasons are why this intersection is so dangerous.


Overall, the thing that was echoed among everyone was that all drivers need to be paying attention, play it safe, not be distracted, and actually have eye contact with other drivers.


Be safe on those roads. It may mean your life.


Investigation concluded.