By Caroline Connolly
KEARNS, Utah -- A 15-year-old boy was hit by a car Tuesday morning and taken to Intermountain Medical Center in extremely critical condition.
It happened around 7:15 when a group of four teenagers crossed 5300 West 5400 South on the way to Kearns High School. A car made a sudden stop to let the group cross, and then a silver Chevrolet Metro swerved around the first car, striking the boy.
Lt. Justin Hoyal from the Unified Police Department said the teens were not using a crosswalk, which has prompted discussion about the safety of the road.
Amanda Simpson, who lives nearby 5400 South, said a lot of students cross that street on their way to and from school every day.
“People need to slow down,” she said. “I know they’ve reduced the speed up here to 40, but I’ve said for a long time it should be less than that. Because, bottom line is, it’s a main road and it’s really busy, and there’s tons of kids walking out here all the time.”
The students were walking along 5400 South, in between 5600 West and 4800 West, where there is not a single crosswalk, nor a need for one, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
"The studies have shown that they do not meet the warrant for an installation of a crosswalk or traffic signal at this point," department spokesperson Adan Carrillo said.
In the last three to four years, the department has done several studies on 5400 South that consider a variety of factors, including the volume of pedestrians.
Carillo explained, "Either a crosswalk study, a traffic signal study, a speed reduction study, just to maintain the safety of this corridor."
But the results didn’t signal any red flags calling for more safety measures, at least on the portion of the road where the teen was struck.
In a UDOT study done in 2011 for a road reconstruction project, the department concluded that other parts of 5400 South did need changes. In fact, “safety” was one of their main reasons for it. The study said: "5400 South has an accident rate double that of roadways with similar characteristics."
However, Carrillo counters that the study was done for a recently completed project that runs from Bangerter Highway to 4800 West, and doesn't include the part of the road where Tuesday’s accident occurred.
"We do have a lot of improvements, a lot of safety improvements planned for this corridor,” he said. “Still, however, crosswalks or traffic signals have not been identified as being required at this point.”
UDOT would like to plan a road reconstruction project for the other portion of 5400 South, which would add a third lane to either side, expand the sidewalks and potentially increase the number of crosswalks. Carrillo said they do not currently have the funding for construction, though, which he expects would cost approximately $36 million.