IOWA — The untimely deaths of three young eastern Iowa boys are an unfortunate reminder to obey traffic signs and not use medians as a way to U-turn.
“Always make sure you have enough time because you don’t realize how fast those vehicles are coming at you,” Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright said, while driving down Interstate 80 in his patrol car.
Bright uses medians frequently while working on interstates.
“When we’re approaching one of [the medians] we usually turn our back lights on so people know we’re slowing down and we’re going to put our turn signal on to go into it,” Bright said.
State troopers and emergency personnel who are meant to use these medians take extra precautions, but still, safety is a concern.
“It is a dangerous situation for anybody who uses that crossover, even for us. I mean we’re out there every day working,” Bright said.
“I just turned my radar on and we have cars running 79 mph,” Bright said, while sitting at a median on I-80.
Because of the speed of traffic behind you and speed of traffic coming at you, signs are clearly marked prohibiting U-turns for regular travelers, but state troopers say it happens more than they would like to see.
“You see it on a daily basis, usually. You just have to be at the right spot at the right time because if they see us coming down the interstate, they aren’t going to do it,” Bright said.
It’s a typical scenario. You’re driving on the interstate and miss your exit, you see an upcoming median and think you can take a U-turn to save some time and get going the other way, but the Iowa State Patrol says that can be costly on people’s lives.
In 2018, the Iowa State Patrol handed out 275 tickets for this offense. It is a $195 citation, but the decision could cost a lot more than money.
“We lost three lives that could’ve been preventable,” Bright said. He also says speed of cars can be very much deceiving at those medians. That is just one of the many reasons they are so dangerous.