Dusty Rural Roads Lead to Traffic Fatalities

Craighead County-

This weekend, the gravel roads in Region 8 turned deadly.

Volunteer Marmaduke firefighter Johnathon Healy was killed when he was riding with a Greene County Sheriff's Deputy. A police report says they failed to make a curve and fell into an eight-foot ditch.

Just a few weeks ago near Black Oak, a man on his ATV was killed when a pickup truck hit him.

In both accidents, the dust blinded the drivers.

Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann says most gravel road drivers just need to slow down and buckle up.

"What causes most injuries and death is being tossed around. Your head can hit the steering wheel, the dash, the window .. you're just flopping around. You're hitting your head up against everything and that's what causes most injuries and death," said McCann.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 57 percent of highway deaths happen on county roads.

Another study out of the University of Minnesota found Arkansas to be number nine on a list of states with the highest number of traffic fatalities on these stretches of road.

The Craighead County Sheriff's Department says there are more than 1,150 miles of gravel road, compared to only 200 miles of black top road.

Gravel roads in Region 8 do get annual maintenance, but during the summer months especially, there's only so much that can be done.

"After weather like rain and snow and stuff we have to address them a lot more than when it's hot in the summer, but once the road gets set in it's pretty much how it's going to be when it's hot and dry like this, " said Ed Hill, of the Craighead County Highway Department.

Hopefully this week's rain will mean less dust and one less danger for people who travel these roads.