SMITH COUNTY, Texas — Not even 10 minutes passes in CBS19's interview with Smith County Pct. 4 Constable Josh Joplin before not one, not two, but three emergency vehicles rushed by to another crash on State Highway 31.
“Wrecks have been happening in this community and on down further towards the county line for probably 65 or 70 years," Joplin said.
Tragedy strikes this highway so often that locals call it “Bloody 31.”
Joplin has lived along this highway his entire life. He’s lost multiple classmates to accidents and says just about every type of car accident you can imagine happens here.
“You've got your intoxicated drivers and your liquor stores are just on the other side of the county line,"" Joplin said. "And then on top of that you have people that want to drive at 90-100 miles an hour down through here.”
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports the rate of deaths on this highway in the past 10 years is more than six times that of the entire state.
The overwhelming death toll didn't surprise Betty Johnson who has owned Johnson’s Grocery on Highway 31 E. since the 60s.
“A lot of accidents have been here," Johnson said. "Some right in front of the store, some down the road. And so it's just, we live in the midst of this.”
The highway’s nickname stuck.
“Bloody 31 that's one of them. Yeah, bloody 31,” she said.
Joplin said the state has taken measures to curb accidents like widening the road in some areas and putting up caution lights, but ultimately, it’s up to the driver to drive safely.
“If you can't get the public to slow it down or to pay attention to what's going on, lights and widening the road really doesn't help you a whole lot," Joplin said.
With that advice, he left to respond to another wreck with multiple injuries on Highway 31.