Recent accidents on Hwy. 49 raise concerns about safety

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – A serious accident this weekend should remind drivers to be careful on Highway 49 between Jonesboro and Paragould.

A truck slammed into a tractor-trailer Sunday night near Brookland and halted traffic.

Neighbors say similar wrecks have occurred more frequently since the speed limit rose to 60 mph this past summer.

"I can hear the sirens all the time," said Devin Futch. "Oh, it must be another wreck. There's another ambulance."

Futch has become less sensitive to the sound of sirens blaring near her home in Brookland.

She lives not too far off Hwy. 49, where Region 8 News has reported on a string of accidents that has taken place since the speed limit rose from 55 to 60 mph several months ago.

"Nobody pays any regard to the speed limits. It's stop-go. It's like driving in the city," Futch said, adding that it's been like this even before the speed limit changed. "It's just driving in the city from when I lived in Atlanta. It's the same thing – careless drivers."

To combat careless driving, she advises people to simply slow down, but other drivers, like Stacy Edwards from Jonesboro, say people just need to keep their eyes on the road.

"I have seen some swerving and stuff, but that's from the texting and driving or on-the-phone and driving," Edwards said. "I was following a gentleman or somebody in a vehicle this afternoon that was kind of going over in the turning lane and then would come back over, you know. What can you do?"

Edwards says she has recently noticed more and more distracted drivers during her commute from Jonesboro to Paragould.

"You have to pay attention to what you're doing because you are in a vehicle," Edwards said. "It's just like loading a bullet into a gun. I mean, you could get killed."

She says local police have done a good job patrolling the area, but adds that some people are going to speed no matter what. That's why Futch says drivers may need a few more reminders to not only bring some awareness to the issue of speeding but also force them to slow down.

"Maybe there's not enough speed limit signs or maybe something like this (story) can be done that could alert the public that, hey, you really need to watch out and take more precautions."

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