Wreck Leads to Traffic Change in Overland Park
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Carl VanWinkle wasn’t expected to survive the wreck that sent him into a coma three years ago. But not only has he survived, he has been fighting to make the intersection where he nearly died safer for all drivers.
In March of 2009, VanWinkle was seriously injured when the car he was riding in was struck by another vehicle at 127th Street and Antioch in Overland Park. The accident sent him into a coma for a month, followed by intense rehabilitation at a Nebraska hospital.
The accident did not injure his sense of humor.
“I know the doctors call it a “coma”, yeah sure, but I call it more of a nap. I woke up, I was tired,” said VanWinkle, who still has problems with his right arm but doesn’t consider it a major problem. “I’m left-handed.”
During his rehad, VanWinkle asked Overland Park officials to look into making the intersection of 127th and Antioch safer. This week, that finally happened, as drivers turning left on 127th Street from Antioch will see a series of arrows instead of a green light.
“Green arrow, you get a short yellow arrow and then go to flashing yellow arrow, and that would be normally what you have had for a green ball,” said City of Overland Park traffic engineer Brian Shields. “Then when it’s about time to change to the red, it will go back to yellow arrow solid, and then you’ll have a red.”
The goal of the light change is to get drivers to slow down and look before turning left. That hesitation is precisely what VanWinkle and city engineers are hoping for.
The lights are used in other cities across the metro area, but are the first in Overland Park. The city says the lights will be going up at other intersections across the city soon.
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