Our Opinion

A moment's inattention

 

Last week was a grim reminder that Highway 395 through the Pine Nuts is a dangerous stretch of road.

It hasn’t been that long since the highway was easily the deadliest in Douglas County year after year.

Most of the fatal collisions were head-on, where someone drifted over the centerline or was trying to pass a slower vehicle.

The installation of rumble strips down the center of the road has slowed down the number of fatal collisions from that cause, at least.

Because it is part of the federal highway system, big trucks are always going to be a hazard on the road.

On Tuesday, the Nevada Highway Patrol revealed the results of its preliminary investigation from last week’s crash.

It confirmed what we learned from Sean Leonard’s daughter last week. Leonard was stopped at Courtland Lane waiting for northbound traffic to pass so he could make a left turn when a semi hit him from behind, pushing him into oncoming traffic.

While there are a couple of spots where the road widens for passing lanes there aren’t too many turn lanes for residents.

And because the traffic through the Pine Nuts can be sporadic, vehicles tend to come in clumps, making it hard to gauge how safe it is to turn or pull over.

All that said, southbound motorists have a lot better view of what’s ahead of them when cresting Jake’s Hill than those coming from the other direction.

That semi would have had to come to a complete stop to avoid hitting Leonard as he waited for oncoming traffic to pass.

As a former tow truck driver, Leonard was an experienced driver who, as his daughter said, had been at the scene of many collisions himself.

The full investigation will take months to complete, and the Nevada Highway Patrol will be able to ask the truck driver for that side of the story.

We don’t know what more that investigation will reveal, but we do know that it doesn’t take much of a distraction from the road to change … or end … someone’s life.

Last week was a grim reminder that Highway 395 through the Pine Nuts is a dangerous stretch of road.

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