Not Time or Place for 'Kindness'
Although often regarded as "laid back," anyone who witnessed my "road rage" while maneuvering through the Route 2/Parkway intersection one recent afternoon certainly saw a different side of me. Inappropriately vocal? Yes. Angry? Yes. Yet my guess is that many of you will relate to the following experience. Perhaps writing about it will do little good; however I've often heard it takes squeaky wheels to make others take notice and bring about change, so let this be my contribution to making a little noise and inviting others to do the same. Hopefully somehow, someday we can prompt some positive change in a dangerous area of our town.
Here goes: My passenger and I arrived at the congested intersection after traveling over the overpass, intending to turn left into Rite Aid. Since there was another vehicle coming from the east already stopped and waiting to make their left hand turn onto Parkway, we stopped and waited to make our turn. Having past experiences of being rear-ended, I anxiously kept one eye on my rear view mirror where a tractor trailer was approaching; however the confusing circus in front of my eyes quickly took precedence leaving me to trust the truck driver behind me would pay attention and stop. At the same time, while that first vehicle waiting to turn onto Parkway appeared to not know it was supposed to go ahead and make its turn, a pickup truck at the end of Parkway which had been waiting to turn left and head west on Route 2 suddenly pulled out and drove in the "wrong" direction on the eastbound Route 2 thru lane, cut behind my vehicle while somehow managing to avoid that oncoming tractor trailer, and miraculously merged into the westbound Route 2 lane! Courageous? Stupid? Dangerous? Unnecessary? Unless this was a secret agent on a mission to save the world, I conclude stupid, dangerous and unnecessary and am very thankful no one was hurt.
After witnessing that fiasco, my eyes returned to that first vehicle, still stopped but now "kindly" waving to me to go ahead and make my turn. This is where my apprehensiveness in regard to "kindness" comes into play. Believe me, I'm all for being nice however being overly kind while attempting to maneuver through this particular intersection is not a good idea. Contrarily, it's potentially dangerous. Many, many times I have witnessed drivers stopped at various points of this intersection, trying to figure out whose "turn" it is to move, scanning their memory banks yet often failing to recall the rules and regulations of their Driver's Ed manuals. If I am correct, the East/West Route 2 traffic has the right of way, while the traffic from Parkway or Rite Aid should wait until it's safe to move, with whoever is in place first at either of those two points, moving first. When vehicles arrive at any of these positions simultaneously however, the kindness factor does often come into play; however the practice of waving other drivers on too often creates confusing, dangerous situations and this afternoon was no exception.
There we were, still waiting to turn left, while that first vehicle coming from the east was still waiting to turn onto Parkway. Seeming like eternity, the waiting now was loudly narrated by my passenger's adamant encouraging for me to go ahead and turn in to Rite Aid because the driver of that first vehicle was kindly "waving me on" to do so. I loudly informed my passenger that the other driver may be trying to be nice but I was not about to make the turn and get smacked by westbound thru traffic potentially coming up on their right -- traffic that driver didn't notice and also not yet visible to me. My passenger was frustrated with my caution and did not understand my apprehension, but he quickly learned. With everyone in the intersection appearing to be at a loss as to what to do, seemingly frozen in time yet with more vehicles arriving each moment, finally against my better judgment I slowly crept left toward Rite Aid until reaching a point where I could see the suspected traffic indeed approaching on that westbound thru lane, passing the still stopped "kind" driver. Luckily, the lead vehicle anticipated a cluster problem and slowed down enough to let me make my turn.
It's obvious there are times when the intersection is far more challenging than others, clearly busier during the ski season, etc., and more problematic at specific times of the day. However, even when the traffic flow is minimal the fact remains that there will always be too many drivers who do not know the correct procedure in maneuvering this intersection and too often treat it like a "four way stop," consequently creating dangerous situations that could be eliminated with a full traffic signal. Also, with the advancements in technology in recent years, there must be systems with various settings that can accommodate times of the year, times of the day, etc. I realize there are many who may feel this is all unnecessary and do not want the "hassle" of waiting for a green light, but really -- is anyone so important that they can't "wait" a minute once in awhile for their chance to go?
On another note, I'm thankful to say I've witnessed a tremendously positive change in another area of our community with the implementation of new signs, flashing lights, and enforced reduced speed limits in the Telstar School zone on Route 26. To all of those responsible for those changes -- the Oxford County Sheriff's Department, the school officials, and the Department of Transportation -- Thank you -- Great job! Seeing this happen after so many years also encourages my hope for future positive change in our confusing intersection.