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A CAR TURNS LEFT at a yellow light from northbound U.S. 63 onto U.S. 160/Preacher Roe Boulevard in West Plains. The Missouri Department of Transportation has agreed to remove flashing yellow left-turn arrows on U.S. 63.

A CAR TURNS LEFT at a yellow light from northbound U.S. 63 onto U.S. 160/Preacher Roe Boulevard in West Plains. The Missouri Department of Transportation has agreed to remove flashing yellow left-turn arrows on U.S. 63.

At the city council meeting Monday City Administrator Tom Stehn informed council that Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has agreed with the city’s request to remove the flashing yellow arrow signals or “permissive lefts” for traffic on U.S. 63.

A West Plains man was killed Saturday afternoon when his vehicle was broadsided by a tractor-trailer at the intersection of the U.S. 63 bypass and U.S. 160/Preacher Roe Boulevard in West Plains at 12:54 p.m. on Saturday.

Public Information Officer John Murrell with the police department reported a northbound 2011 Chevrolet Cruz driven by Craig D. Kelly, 46, made a left turn onto U.S. 160/Preacher Roe Boulevard, into the path of a southbound 1998 Volvo tractor-trailer. Kelly died of the injuries he suffered in the crash; no injuries were reported for the other driver.

According to the city’s understanding, both vehicles involved in the collision had flashing yellow signals.

The agreement to remove yellow lights is greatly welcomed by city officials as that intersection as been the site of several accidents and fatalities, including the fatality that occurred Saturday.

“Many times for traffic coming northbound, the left turn lane is hard,” said Councilman Cary Stewart. “It is often a geometrical alignment problem and you can’t see around.”

Stehn explained mainline traffic signals on U.S. 63 will go to protective left turn lane signals which will show only a green arrow. Side streets will still have flashing yellow arrows.

Along with changing signals, MoDOT will increase the speed limit on U.S.63 from 45 mph to 50 mph from U.S. 160/Preacher Roe to Business 63 south towards Dairy Queen.

Council also unanimously approved a primary seat belt ordinance to allow officers to stop motorists failing to wear seat belts, or whose passengers are unrestrained, without observing other traffic violations.

“Traffic safety is a very high priority in our community,” Police Chief Stephen Monticelli said. “The safety of teenage drivers and children is especially a high priority and needs to be to everyone as well. Not wearing a seat belt is often behavior modeled by parents and other adults who are not wearing seat belts when operating motor vehicles.”

Sixty-one percent of motor vehicle accidents involve those who are not wearing seatbelts, according to city officials.

MoDOT performed a seat belt observation survey in 2018 and Howell County and the city of West Plains reportedly did not do well. Many motor vehicle occupants did not wear seat belt restraints, the survey showed

“The number of high school students wearing seat belts has reduced from 78% in 2016 to 69% in 2018,” added Monticelli. “That is an alarming number and by this seat belt ordinance we hope the public understands what a safety concern not wearing a seat belt can be.  We want  every driver and occupant to arrive to each destination as safely as possible.”

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