After the death of Jazmen Shaw, 21, in a two-vehicle accident at the intersection of U.S. Highway 177 and Lake McMurtry Road, speculation has begun about the need for a stoplight at that intersection.
Shaw, who studied psychology at Oklahoma State University, was set to graduate in May. News on 6's Brian Dorman interviewed family members of Shaw, who described her as having a personality of gold and somebody who lit up a room. When finding out about the wreck, it was hard for them to fathom.
“I just arrived at work and the highway patrol called,” Jazmen’s father Jamal Ali told News on 6, while crying. “I said what's going on, just tell me what's going on and they advised me that my daughter was killed in a car wreck.”
“I feel numb, I feel real numb. It's like it's not real,” her mother Krystal Shaw told News on 6. “Thinking of all the things I should've done, should've said. When was the last time I talked to her? I kept putting everything off. I had plans for us to go on a trip and all these plans. All I can say is that don't put it off, don't put it off because they may not be there.”
Falling outside of city limits, the county would be tasked with potentially making something happen to put a light or other signals at that location. District 3 Commissioner Rocky Blasier said he will be speaking with District 1 Commissioner Zach Cavett and District 2 Commissioner Chris Reding to see what could potentially be done.
But according to Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s Brian Taylor, field division engineer for Division 4, ODOT has examined the possibility of a light at the intersection, but it does not warrant one.
“Last year after the fatality accident at the intersection, we ran an accident study and a turning movement study,” Taylor said. “That fatality last year wasn’t intersection related, it was somebody making a U-turn. We ran a turning movement study, and that intersection did not warrant a signal light at the time due to the side street volume. Even if it did, we would be hesitant to put a traffic signal at that location, because we believe it would create a lot more accidents than it would solve. At this point in time, it does not warrant a traffic signal.”
According to ODOT, there were 33 accidents at the intersection over the past five years, with one fatality south of the intersection. After its investigation, ODOT lowered the speed limit nearing the intersection to 55 mph and posted oversized warning signs suggesting a 45 mph speed nearing the intersection.
Another consideration ODOT takes into effect when looking at where a light could potentially go looks at different criteria that have to be met in order to determine if a light should be placed at a specific location.
“As far as intersections go, in order to put in a traffic signal, there are 11 different warrants and you have to meet a combination of those warrants to justify putting them in,” Taylor said. “That location did not meet those minimum warrants.”