MoDOT working with Highway Patrol to address fatalities on Highway 124

MoDOT working with HIPO to address fatalities on Hwy 124

BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - In northern Boone County, Route B routes through Hallsville and comes out the other side as Highway 124. For residents, it's a well-traveled road that will get drivers anywhere they need to be.

"It's a main artery, and everybody from the northeast part of Boone County comes down it," said Richard, who drives the road frequently. "Then you're getting Audrain and Monroe. There's a wide area that draws people down the road."

He asked ABC17 not to use his last name, but he lost a relative in a fatal crash on Highway 124 a few years ago. This year alone, four people have died in three crashes along Highway 124. 

Richard said residents have been dealing with the dangers of the road for years and even have a specific bumper sticker for it.

"Pray for me, I drive Route B," he said of the sticker. "I have people ask me about it all the time."

But while Richard believes the road has always been an issue, Missouri Department of Transportation workers are perplexed because despite dozens of crashes, the road has never raised any red flags until now.

"It's a struggle on this situation to see what's going on here," said Mike Schupp, the area engineer for Boone County.

And their struggle is this: Highway 124 is a simple road and at first glance, one of the simpler in Missouri.

"It's just a situation that's very tough because we have such a good roadway with wide shoulders, visibility is great," said Schupp.

Richard said residents are also at a loss as to why the road has claimed four lives this year.

"There's no reason for it," he said. "It's straight, there's only a couple of hills in it. It just blows your mind what's going on out there."

But he points to another issue that doesn't relate to road structure: the drivers themselves.

"They're jockeying to get positions because once you get to Hallsville, the trouble doubles and there's no room to pass," he said. "When they get on 124, they're trying to get as far ahead as they can of everybody else to get ahead of the line. It's the same way coming home."

Schupp said he isn't sure if that could be a reason for the serious crashes, but speed could definitely be an issue.

"When you can see such a long distance, oftentimes it can give the perception that they can pass because there's plenty of room," he said. "But if both people are traveling 10 miles over the speed limit that distance between those vehicles closes very quickly."

Schupp said changing the speed-limit signs won't change people's behavior, so he said engineers will be talking with Highway Patrol to figure out what they can do to minimize the dangers. He said this could include a radar campaign or narrowing the shoulders, but he wasn't sure.

So far this year there have been 882 deaths on Missouri roads. According to Schupp, there have been 24 fatalities in Boone County, which is up from 15 last year. 

ABC17 News will continue checking in with MoDOT and the Highway Patrol to find out what they plan to do about the road.

In the meantime, residents and MoDOT engineers are hoping drivers will slow down and pay more attention on the roads.

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