September 12, 2005

First One Through: A Warning

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it on here before, because I meant to. If this is a repeat post, I apologize.

The other day I was 2 cars back at a dangerous intersection (Route 6 at Faunce Corner in Dartmouth, MA) going South (I was preparing to cross Route 6). I was daydreaming slightly at the red light, and came back to reality when I saw it turn green.

The car in front of me got about half way across the intersection before another car came screaming across in front of him, left to right, almost clipping the car in front of me. He’d run the red.

I was shocked because there is a pretty good delay there between light changes.This was not a case of someone just sneaking as the yellow turned red.

When I’m the first person in line waiting for a light to change, I’m usually thinking something like “I’m glad there’s nobody in front of me. I hope the light changes soon.” I never think “Since I’m the first to go through, I’m in increased danger.”

Because, the fact is, you are in some danger being the first at a light. The second guy through is safer, because traffic flow has already been established across the intersection.

Whenever you cross a road, you should be careful for opposing traffic. But from now on I am going to keep this in mind:

When I’m first at the light, let that be a reminder to be extra careful crossing. Look to make sure nobody is speeding through.

In the few weeks since this happened, I have seen 3 more cases at that same intersection (including this morning) and twice at other intersections.

Months ago, I was approaching the Faunce Corner/Rte. 6 intersection and there was considerable traffic backed up. When I got to the light finally, I saw what the problem was. A car had been broadsided. It was a horrible mess and the police were just arriving. A car had come down route 6 and hit another car as it was crossing the highway. I can’t tell you what the circumstances were, but it brings into sharp focus a question. How many times can someone run that light before there is a collision?

Be careful out there. Be doubly careful when you’re the first one through.

Posted by James at September 12, 2005 1:53 PM
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I hate being the first person through a light, for that very reason. Had a very stupid accident (I wasn't injured, but the car was) in 1990 or 91 and several near-misses since then. I just couldn't get used to the idea that it wasn't safe to go on green, I guess! It was a little worse there than here because the lights there are often quite a bit longer (especially in Seminole county).

But, we have our scary intersections too, especially along rt. 6. The intersections at Faunce Corner Rd and 140 are both terrible, and a few months ago, even being the *second* car through the light at 240 & rt. 6 in Fairhaven almost wasn't good enough. Some guy went screeching down 6 *long* after the light had changed and the car in front of me was already through the intersection. Made me want to turn the car around and get back on 195 where I could feel *safe.*

Posted by: Julie at September 12, 2005 2:52 PM

Were playing the new interactive game, Grand Theft Auto: SouthCoast. Having recently driven 2800 miles through 13 states, I can assure you the level of ignorance of law and simple selfish incompetence here is mind boggling. In states south of New Jersey, driving is a trust exercise in which, like the drivers around you, you follow the rules of the road. North of New Jersey, drivers make up their own rules and don't think about anyone else. Often to the point of not admitting that there ARE other drivers on the road. Of course, Florida, well, the rules are different there.
Example: If you are on your cell phone, you can just roll through any stop sign or turn.
Watch the drivers who take the exit off 195E onto Faunce Corner Road and decide to not wait in the right-turn merge lane but take the left-turn queue and then swerve to take the right turn ahead of everyone.
Without enforcement, rules (like "green-light, red-light") mean nothing. If they haven't died in a roll-over or gotten arrested for reckless endangerment yet, New England drivers continue, ostensibly rewarded for their bad behavior.

Posted by: ThirdMate at September 13, 2005 7:57 AM

Ah - the beloved Faunce Corner exit.

Where two lanes merge into 3 lanes which become 4 lanes, yet there's still a traffic backup. 2 lanes to 4 lanes. Where's the bottleneck?

I can tell you. Many people going south on Faunce corner want to take a right onto Cross road. So they are technically crossing traffic. But the people on the offramp have a yield sign.

So, where merging owuld normally be easy, they clash. It would be a piece of cake if the people on Faunce Corner road waited unitl after the merge to lane-switch, and people getting off the exit would first worry about getting onto the road and THEN worry about getting across the road to McDonalds.

Once, years ago, there was a huge backup on this exit and I did what you describe above. I pulled the a-hole move and took that left hand turn lane!

However, instead of taking the right and going ahead of everyone else, I took the right, drove a few yards and stopped in what becomes the right lane. In effect, I had blocked the right lane.

Miraculously, there was plenty of room (i.e. another lane) for cars to pass me on the left. Also miraculously, without the thread of being hit by oncoming traffic, and with me waving my hand, the people on the onramp suddenly dumped onto the road, freed from the evil curse which had held them there. When a sufficient number of cars had gone and I tired of breaking the law, I waited for a break in the traffic behind me and pulled out into the left lane, continuing on.

Putting a car in the road does not create a new lane. When people weren't worried about being hit by oncoming traffic, they suddenly were able to merge more smoothly. Basically, it was as though someone were directing traffic.

I have never done it again because, although I know it helped in that one case, I am afraid I could not explain myself to the authorities. But I had to know if it could be done.

Posted by: James at September 13, 2005 8:50 AM

Actually, from the sat picture you can better see how Faunce Corner road widens out at the offramp.

Anyhow, I agree, people who take that left turn as a right are jerks. I could see some of the looks I was gettign as I passed those people that one time. But thier expressions changes when I waved them onto the road.

Frankly, they looked confused.

Posted by: James at September 13, 2005 8:54 AM

Wow - can you tell I'm not using a spell-checker?

Posted by: James at September 13, 2005 8:55 AM

This is why I need a hood-mounted rocket launcher.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 13, 2005 11:25 AM

Because of bad drivers, not your typing.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 13, 2005 11:26 AM

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