Cullman County family asking for more safety precautions after mother dies in car crash

A family is asking for more safety measures to be taken at a dangerous intersection

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A family is mourning after their loved one was killed in a recent car wreck. They say it happened at a well-known, dangerous intersection where Alabama Highway 157 and U.S. Highway 278 meet County Line 719.

A bouquet of roses is now placed where Rebecca Erby lost her life just over a week ago. Erby’s family left with nothing but heartache, and a desire to make sure this never happens to anyone else again.

“She has two granddaughters that are racing and now she will not be able to go to the first race of her two granddaughters,” daughter Teresa Bearden said.

Erby’s son Billy Erby said his whole world shattered when he found out about his mother’s crash.

“It changes completely we go from having our mom at 8 o’ clock in the morning and being able to talk to her and making sure she is alright, and at 8:45 we don’t have her,” said Billy Erby. “She got to the intersection of 278 and 157 a truck came off of 719 failed to yield to the right of way at the stop sign. Blew through the stop sign. T-boned by mother.”

The official details of the crash are still under investigation, according to law enforcement.

The Erby family wants something done, whether that’s stop sings, a traffic light or even a roundabout.

The state maintains both U.S. 278 and Alabama 157 — but not County Road 719.

According to county leaders they’re working with the state to improve the safety of the intersection.

A statement from an ALDOT representative is below:

“The state maintains both U.S. 278 and Alabama 157, but not the county road. We are saddened by Ms. Erby’s death and our hearts go out to her family. The police investigation into the crash has not been completed, and we do not yet know the details, but we will be following up on the findings of that investigation.

While the average number of wrecks occurring at this location annually is not extraordinary, and most of the crashes do not involve injury, there is a troubling trend of crashes resulting from motorists failing to yield the right-of-way. Last year, we made some improvements including the addition of rumble strips on Alabama 157 to better indicate the upcoming stop, as well as restriping and adding reflective pavement markers. And prior to this most recent crash, ALDOT was already initiating an evaluation, including review of crash data and updated traffic counts, to determine how we might be able to further improve safety. We will review all options available to eliminate as many crashes as possible.

A signal is an option that will certainly be considered, but it might not be the best answer or even a viable answer. An intersection must meet warrants set by the Federal Highway Administration before it can be signalized. This intersection has not met those criteria in the past, and it is unclear whether it will meet them now.

The reason these federal guidelines exist is that traffic signals do not always improve safety. While traffic signals can improve overall safety when implemented in the correct situations, signals can make matters worse when installed where they are unnecessary. Signals typically increase the number of crashes at an intersection. They can change the types of crashes that occur — in some cases, in favor of less severe types, but in other cases, giving rise to types of crashes that can be equal or greater in severity. Signals in isolated locations with high-speed traffic can create conditions for both an increase in crashes as well as high crash severity.

Always, the key element of road safety is drivers themselves. There is no substitute for adhering to the rules of the road and driving defensively. Motorists on the minor highway should always come to a full stop and check both directions before proceeding into the intersection. Motorists should always recheck for traffic before exiting the crossover of the divided highway and entering the travel lanes.”

“No matter what they do now won’t bring my mom back. But what they can do is try to prevent someone else from losing their mom,” said Billy Erby.

Copyright 2021 WAFF. All rights reserved.