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June 20, 2017 · OPINION

Do we blame the road or those driving distracted?

By John Green
Bealeton

We just experienced two more highway deaths on US 29 at the intersection of Freemans Ford Road just west of Remington. The carnage continues while our representatives search for solutions. Will they help?

Everything at this intersection appears normal. The road is straight and the visibility is good in both directions. Why are vehicles traveling at highway speed crashing into vehicles stopped for a red light? The choices are few: Drivers are incapacitated or distracted. According to reports, the drivers were not incapacitated.

Distractions while driving are a major cause of accidents. We have texting, telephone, navigation systems, eating and drinking and many more. One long-term solution to these distractions is stricter enforcement of the law. How many times do you see vehicles with wipers on and lights off in the rain? Or lights off when commuter left work but now it’s dusk and they didn’t turn on their lights? Strict enforcement of small items leads to greater awareness of the responsibilities of driving.

Vehicles quickly become deadly weapons when drivers don’t concentrate on the road. Reducing speed limits won’t help. A crash at 55 mph is just about as bad as a crash at 60mph. Rumble strips have not been very successful.

Let me suggest one change that may help. It has been used in areas that often experience fog: When the light turns red a white strobe light comes on. The strobe faces the same direction as the red light and can be seen much further away. The strobe can be picked up by a driver’s peripheral vision. It can get the driver’s attention back onto driving.

It’s easy to say it’s the fault of the road and sometimes it is. That can’t be said of this Remington intersection. People just don’t drive into other cars for the fun of it. We don’t want our roadways to become “demolition derbies.”

Driving is a privilege. We must treat it as one. Don’t blame it on the road.
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LoisBrowder · June 30, 2017 at 1:46 am
I agree that distractions while driving is a major cause of accidents. most of the motorists are now more aware of the distractions produced by cell phones, text messaging, and other electronic devices brought into the vehicle. There are also other distractions that drivers choose to engage are dangerous, such as eating and drinking, reading, and talking to passengers. But nowadays many hauling trucks are involved in many accidents and truck drivers as well as the occupants of the other vehicle(s) are injured. So, it is very important to the Department of Transportation to vary the truck drivers, make sure to check out their details and it is very important to give the links to experienced vehicle shipping companies. But, there are many reputed companies like, UShip, We Will Transport It (http://www.wewilltransportit.com/), Barnett Transport, etc., whose hauling drivers are well experienced in hauling trucks and are fully licensed and with a clean MVR record.
citizen observer · June 21, 2017 at 10:56 am
Well written John! This is becoming a huge problem.

We need to get the state legislature to pass a new law to deal with this. Unfortunately, in the new "Pay to Play" environment they have no financial incentives. We'll need to form a MADD, Motorists Against Distracted Drivers, hold a few bake sales and raffles to raise some money to get into their pockets. So sad that multiple deaths gain none of their attention.

Then after we get this poor excuse of a Governor out of office; we need to get one in that can properly manage a budget to prevent shortfalls, has respect for the job of our law enforcement officers as much as illegals, and can attract and retain State Troopers. They are so understaffed now you hardly see them on the roads. Thus speed limit signs now mean nothing.

Hopefully this will be fixed before more innocent people are killed.
ConcernedMom · June 21, 2017 at 6:57 am
Strobe lights are dangerous too. They can cause serious health problems to people such as seizures and not everyone knows they happen so that could cause another accident.

Put down the phone and your make up and DRIVE. The big rig drivers drive like crazy people and cut people off. Generally speaking just drive pay attention and do what you need to in order to not endanger someone's life
Jim Griffin · June 20, 2017 at 4:51 pm
Like it or not, the problem is the loose nut behind the wheel, eventually solved with removal and replacement -- by robots.

Until then, it's up to those of us who want to continue to drive and control our own vehicles to defend that role. We need to do a better job, pay attention and stop interacting with devices that divert our attention and eyes.

The speed limit is besides the point -- even 10 mph is too fast without full attention. Rumble strips might help, or serve as yet another distraction.

Speaking of distractions, my wife's beauty continues to distract me. No cure for that!
BJ · June 20, 2017 at 2:46 pm
#1 Rule of the Road is to pay attention to the Road and your surroundings whatever the conditions or circumstances. Put down the phone, turn down the radio, let the kids scream, keep calm, and you and everyone else will go home in one piece, not a body bag.
MissB · June 20, 2017 at 2:31 pm
Unless they are going to change this road into a major highway with on ramps and off ramps, then they need to consider roundabouts to replace the lights at these intersections.
Wellitsthetruth · June 20, 2017 at 11:46 am
Everyone goes for the lowest common denominator to blame for problems(all problems, crashes included) and in this case it's the road. It is truly tragic what happened in these cases but the real problem lies at who is at the wheel, just as it is for most problems in the world today.

Lower the speed limit? Ok. People still speed, all it is going to do is how much people speed. 70s vs 60s etc, really not going to change much unfortunately if people still are not paying attention.

More police enforcement? Ok. Once again, people still speed. Yeah the Cops can stop some of them, but honestly people still speed even if they get a ticket etc. Like the author said, more enforcement may help help in the long term with maybe getting some people to pay attention(then again.. maybe it wont)

Rumble strips? Ok. These may or may not be effected, atleast they are being put in to see what occurs.

Also, I've seen people keep mentioning the Yield on flashing turn light and once again this accident (nor the the Thanksgiving one) had absolutely nothing to do with it. That light is very self explanatory and it's very simple, if you don't think you you have enough room then don't turn(just like crossing 29/17/28 etc.) Be fully confident or don't do it.
PattiL · June 20, 2017 at 11:36 am
Good article, John. Distracted driving is a huge problem. I see people nearly every day paying more attention to their phones than their driving. Yet it goes on and on. No accountability.
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