Two old friends were killed recently
outside Jackson when a van full of tourists
crossed the center line and hit them
head-on. Carol Roemer, 68, Riverton, and
Dorothy “Dot” Ashby, 78, Lander, were
two of the nicest gals in Fremont County.
On this day, they were in the wrong place
at the wrong time.
There was no explanation for why the
out-of-state tourist driving the minivan
would have swerved into the oncoming
lane. He was also killed with four of his
passengers airlifted to area hospitals.
This deadly crash took the state’s traffic
death toll to 92 for the year, compared
to just 57 at this same time a year ago.
Why have traffic deaths almost doubled
Steve Peck in his Riverton Ranger editorial
July 24 thinks he has the answer.
“It’s hard to believe traffic safety is not
being affected by the new visual stimuli
competing with the road outside the car
for the driver’s attention inside the car,”
The crash we described earlier here
occurred in the shadow of the Grand
Teton Mountain Range, literally one of
the most beautiful views in the entire
United States. Yet, for some reason, a
driver veered into the oncoming lane with
Peck writes that it is not just cell
phones that are causing the distraction.
He cited a TV ad for a new car touting the
13-inch display on the car’s dashboard
that provides the driver with all kinds of
information. Hmmm. Perhaps the driver
needs to be looking at the highway ahead
rather than studying a monitor on the
Two of the oldest reasons for people
dying in car wrecks have not diminished
much. Way too many people died because
they were not wearing seat belts.
This is an easy fix – if people would just
wise up. Slight injuries turn into fatalities
when the seat belts are not used.
The second big cause is impaired
driving from alcohol, marijuana or other
drugs. A lot of good work in public education
and law enforcement has helped
but it still is a problem.
There are many reasons why Wyoming
roads should be safer than they are.
We have the lowest population of any
state (7 people per square mile), we have
very good roads and most Wyomingites
are veterans of all kinds of driving conditions.
We also drive more miles per capita
than any other state.
It seemed like for years our traffic
death toll had been going down, but not
Could it be speed? I loved it when
the legislature made the Department of
Transportation increase speed limits from
65 to 70 on most roads and put in an 80
mph limit in many places on our interstate
highways. Perhaps some of these accidents
were caused by that, but I have not
seen any conclusive evidence.
WYDOT has spent a lot of money on
variable speed limit signs which slow
traffic down below the posted limits
under certain conditions, such as weather.
One of my coffee buddies claims that
out-of-state drivers pass more often and
more recklessly than Wyoming drivers.
The increase in passing lanes should have
dealt with that, you might think.
Perhaps it is caused by all those lumbering
RVs and motorhomes (like me?)
that clog the highways nine months out
of the year and slow the traffic down. Not
WYDOT has also spent a lot of money
on message boards which tell us to watch
out for wildlife, motorcyclists and bicyclists
on the roads and other dangers.
It also seems to me that we have seen
a surge in deaths in motorcycle crashes.
More people are riding these days than
One of the more recent fatal car crashes
in Wyoming occurred July 28 and carried
an old theme. At 4:44 a.m. a 2013 Ford
Explorer left Highway 191 and rolled.
Killed was 23-year-old driver Ashley
Skorcz of Rock Springs. She was not
wearing her seat belt. Her 5-year-old
daughter Emma was in the car but was
also not protected and was life-flighted to
Utah for serious injuries.
Miss Skorcz was the manager of a
Rock Springs convenience store and grew
up in Farson. A fund has been started in
Rock Springs for her daughter.
The fatality brought the state total to
94 deaths on highways in 2019. With
the year barely half done, we are close
to exceeding the highest annual total in
the past 25 years when 102 people died