A head-on collision on Highway 46 killed one driver and sent another to the hospital Monday morning.
The death comes as Caltrans works to widen sections of the road to make it safer.
In many areas of Highway, there are only two lanes, one going in either direction.
Because of that, people try to pass, often with deadly results.
“That’s a problem that we’ve had with this route, and that’s the case with most of our rural, two-lane routes,” said Jose Camarena, Caltrans spokesperson.
On Monday, just after 11 a.m. that problem came to light when a woman driving a Volvo east on 46 attempted to pass three cars in front of her near Highway 33. As she entered the west lane of traffic, she collided with a Volkswagen heading toward her.
“This pass was initiated at a curve and as she went through the curve, that’s when she observed the vehicle head-on,” said CHP officer Jerry Knight.
The two drivers realized a crash was likely and attempted to swerve to avoid one another. But, they swerved in the same direction and collided off to the side of the highway.
The driver of the Volkswagen, 64-year-old David Hubbard of Tehachapi, died as a result of the crash.
The driver of the Volvo, 37-year-old Laura Heyden of Monterey, was airlifted to Kern Medical Center in stable condition.
No one else was hurt.
The accident comes as Caltrans does work on three projects aimed at widening the two-lane portions of Highway 46. They hope to make those two-lane stretches into four-lane roads, with two lanes going either direction. Additionally, there will be a median between the two sides.
There are three highway-widening projects in the works, with varying completion dates. Each project tackles a different stretch of 46.
Caltrans says the third and final project, which encompasses the stretch of Highway 46 where Monday’s accident happened, should be completed by 2014, maybe sooner.
“Currently all three projects are a little bit ahead of schedule,” said Camarena. “So we’re hoping to complete them sooner than when they’ve been scheduled to be completed.”