The roads in Pocahontas County are long and winding, steep and sometimes narrow, leading to their fair share of accidents. With the influx of visitors and workers traveling the roads this summer, Pocahontas County Sheriff Jeff Barlow said it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are certain roads that have had several wrecks in the past, and Barlow said there are a few areas that cause concern for him.
“It’s like that turn in Buckeye,” he said. “I think that’s the worst turn we have in the county. As soon as it rains, that’s just like ice.”
Another area is between Dunmore and the Cass intersection, where several vehicles have left behind black marks and gouges in the road from collisions.
“Any time you go up there, you can see where a vehicle has gone over the hill or something right in that area,” Barlow said. “There’s going to be an increased amount of traffic there as soon as the pipeliners get in here. There’s a lot of equipment up there, so that’s going to increase traffic.”
When the Sheriff’s department responds to accidents, all the reports are sent to Charleston to be filed electronically. Barlow explained that if there is a certain section of road with an increased number of accidents, the information is shared with the Department of Highways so it can track areas that may need to be reconstructed.
Locally, when there is an area of concern, Barlow said the Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia State Police have special patrols to monitor traffic and remind motorists to stay safe.
“If there’s an area of concern, then an officer could make extra money on his time off to go up and work that section of road and run radar and make sure equipment on vehicle is working properly and just do a special patrol for that area to get people to slow down.”
The special patrols are not set up as “gotcha” patrols to increase the number of tickets written. Instead, it is a way to let motorists know that there have been issues with accidents on a particular section of road. In the past, there have been special patrols with the Click It or Ticket initiative as well as when the law passed prohibiting cellphone use while driving.
No matter what the issue might be, Barlow said there are simple things individuals can do to have safe and happy travels around and through the county.
“Be cautious, because an increase in traffic is going to happen,” he said. “Roads are more slippery right after it begins to rain. I always say that, no matter what speed you were driving, if you are in an accident, speed was a factor, so always be aware of your speed.
“There’s going to be an increase in population for a period of time, too,” he said. “There’s going to be an increase in the number of vehicles on the roadways. Anytime you add more vehicles on a roadway, you’re going to have more accidents, especially if you have someone who’s not familiar with our roadway system.”
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org