BASTROP, Texas -- It was a close call Wednesday in Bastrop County for a well-known Texas journalist. Texas Country Reporter Bob Phillips said what happened to him could have happened to anyone.
Phillips, the distinctive voice and creative force behind the popular television series, drives about 60,000 miles annually for his show. The entire time he's been on television, 41 years, he's never had a car accident. That is until Feb. 6, 2013.
Phillips had just wrapped up a shoot in Bastrop at 11:30 Wednesday morning. He was at the red light on westbound State Highway 71 waiting to turn left to go south on FM 20.
"I ease up because it's a major, major highway right there. I look around [and I] can't see anything because it's an obstructive view. I pull out and bam! I'm covered in air bags," said Phillips. "This was one of the most violent experiences I think I've ever had."
"That red light is a good 30 yards from this intersection. If you're driving where these people are driving, you don't know that light is for you because it's not up here where the intersection is," he said.
Fixtures for a signal light have been put in, but the signal light has yet to be installed. The Texas Department of Transportation said Wednesday that it expects the new traffic lights will be more visible for drivers, but those lights won't be up and running until next week.
"The lights aren't correct," said Bastrop driver Heather Shipp. "The lights aren't correct. The lights are forever and a day. You're sitting there and people are getting to think, 'Okay we don't know which way to go so we're going to go our own way.'"
TxDOT does not have statistics, but they did say that there have been other issues at the intersection. The agency is now building an overpass on Highway 71 which will go over FM 20. The hope is to make the intersection safer for drivers regardless of what direction they're heading in. Until then drivers in both directions should be extremely careful and cautious.
"There was a moment there that I thought, 'This is it, this is how it all ends,'" said Phillips. "At least I was driving, which was fitting."