It’s that time of the year folks. The time where we all play a game of “Whose lane is it anyway?”
Let’s not forget the game of, “Is this a parking spot or the road?” That’s right. It is winter driving season. I know, I know, I could hardly wait for it, too.
Driving in Wyoming can be a challenge, regardless of what season we are in. Either something is always jumping out in front of us, or the seasons actually transition through and entire year, in a 40-mile drive.
Truth is these Wyoming roadways are unpredictable.
You can start out your drive with the windows down, sun shining at 65 and before you get to the next town, it’s snowing and blowing. It’s just something that most of us have gotten use to over time.
Sure, every year, we still grumble about the icy highways and the relentless wind gusts that eventually cover the roadways with snow, but this is Wyoming and there is a price tag on the beauty we live in every day.
This last weekend, Goshen County received a bit of snow. I haven’t seen totals yet, but the highways were snow packed and there was a thin layer of ice below the powder.
There were many different families traveling through the area because of the holiday weekend. Many of the vehicles were from out of state or adjacent Wyoming counties. Some of the passengers appeared excited for the destination laying ahead while others didn’t appear to seem impressed with the cold temperatures and steady snow fall.
Most of the travelers were different. Different cars, different routes, different holiday plans.
But they all had one thing in common, they were all in a hurry to get wherever they were going. US Highway 85 holds some of the highest statistics for “Deaths on Wyoming Roadways” and those statistics aren’t just because of the snow. Those statistics are everything from weather related fatalities to drunk driving fatalities. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, US Highway 85 is dangerous, and it is becoming more and more dangerous by the day. The posted speed limit for the vast majority of the highway, running through Goshen County, is 70mph.
South of Torrington, there are two passing lanes before hitting the county line. One passing lane leaving town, climbing the old airport hill and one driving through the town of Hawk Springs.
Leaving Cheyenne, traveling north towards Torrington, there are numerous passing lanes until you reach the Goshen County line.The passing lanes allow for the influx of traffic, from Cheyenne, to safely pass slower moving vehicles.
Perhaps if the Goshen County side of US 85 had passing lanes, there would be less roadway fatalities.
After nearly losing my life on highway 85 due to an out of state driver drinking behind the wheel and watching the lives of members in my community cut short, I urge everyone driving to pay attention on highway 85 and obey traffic signs. I urge folks to not drive when the roadways are closed. While I realize, you may be an expert driver, if the highway is closed, you shouldn’t be driving on it. This summer, during the clean-up of a double fatality accident on highway 85, portions of the roadway was closed. Even with flashing signs and a visible “road closed” sign, many travelers sped passed the Wyoming Department of Transportation work truck and disregarded the clear warning, continuing north.
One of the speeding vehicles nearly missed the employee signaling traffic, standing on the roadway.
Plan ahead to check the roadways, regardless of the season.
While I realize 511 isn’t always the most accurate, we have other means of checking the conditions of roadways before beginning our winter travel. Social media has grown in popularity to keep people informed of road conditions throughout the state of Wyoming.
It is our responsibly to obey traffic signs and that also means respecting when it is safe to pass.
Like most of Wyoming, US Highway 85 is hills and curves mixed with long flat stretches. There are some areas of the highway you can see for miles, while other parts of the highway the line of sight is cut short by a hill or maybe a curve.
The dashing centerline dictates what areas have enough space to safely pass a vehicle, before the next visual restriction. Those areas of visual restriction are clearly labeled with the solid yellow line, for a reason.
The grade, or slope indicates which lines will be solid for no passing and which lines will be dashed to pass. Those lines are measured with equipment.
It isn’t just guess-work. No one just decided to themselves, “You know, I think I’ll just put a no passing line here because it looks cute.”
The lines are there for a reason.
I travel 85 at least twice a day and recently I have seen an increase of Goshen County vehicles simply not obeying the law. Passing when it is unsafe, driving at a high rate of speed and clearly having no concern.
Just slow down Goshen County. We don’t need to be in such a hurry. It may safe your life.