Having lived in the Towanda/El Dorado area for 32 years, I have to say that the reason for the high number of fatalities on Highway 254 is the inattentiveness of drivers. It wouldn't surprise me if the leading cause of death on that stretch of highway was due to drivers, especially young drivers, talking on cell phones and txting.  Cell phones, however, aren't the only cause of distraction among drivers.  My family and I have driven on Highway 254 between El Dorado and Wichita several times. We've seen women putting on make-up while driving, people talking and texting on cell phones, people looking around inside the car while driving, etc. Most of the people we've seen who were distracted tend to be younger drivers. While the loss of life on Highway 254 is saddening, it doesn't have to happen. Besides more extensive driver education, there are other ways to reduce the loss of life on this stretch of highway.

One way to reduce the number of fatalities is to install rumble strips on the shoulders and the center line of the highway. Having driven across rumble strips, I can attest to the fact that they really work in alerting drivers if they get out of their lane while driving. This technique works well to wake up drivers who tend to get sleepy while driving and drift out of their lane.  
My wife and I also discussed another way to reduce the number of accidents and loss of life on Highway 254. If there were overpasses at each intersection with on/off ramps, this would make it impossible for people to run stop signs and pull out into traffic. The only issue with the on/off ramps would be getting drivers to look over their shoulders before they pull out into traffic.  

Another way to reduce deaths on this highway is to make all stop signs at the intersections larger and brighter. By making the stop signs easier to see, maybe drivers would be more aware that they are approaching the highway. Visibility at night can be difficult. So, making the stop signs bigger and brighter would be helpful. Also, installing flashing red lights at all intersections along Highway 254 would also help to make drivers aware they are approaching the highway.  

By implementing these suggestions, taxes would undoubtedly be increased. However, reducing the number of accidents and deaths along Highway 254 is worth any tax increase. The cost of just one human life is far greater than any tax increase for safety reasons. People would almost certainly complain about raising taxes for making Highway 254 safer. My message to them is: would you rather pay increased taxes or funeral costs?  

Brent Kirkpatrick
Belleville, Kan.