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Fed up with bad drivers, errant forecasts

January 19, 2013 12:10 am

TODAY is gripe day.

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about poor driver etiquette, but I failed to mention one thing--those drivers who pull past the white line when arriving at a red light.

You know that line, the big white line that must be at least a foot across and the width of the entire lane. It is put there as a mark to let drivers know where to stop, sometimes even with a sign.

Believe it or not, that line has a purpose, especially in the left-turn lane. More often than not, it is linked to an electric eye that trips when a vehicle pulls up to it.

What that means is that if half your vehicle is over the line or you stop 10 feet short of the line, the left-turn signal won't trip.

If the electric eye doesn't trip, the light doesn't change, and you keep sitting there while the traffic light goes through another entire sequence.

So, because some bozo is halfway over the line, cars behind him often have to sit and burn gas, especially if they get to the light late.

There is another problem associated with pulling halfway across that line and it is a safety issue.

When you pull out too far, you block the vision of a driver who might want to turn right on red. He can't see if any traffic is coming from his left if your front end is six or eight feet past the stop line. So, he has to pull out farther than you and suddenly two vehicles have their noses stuck out in traffic.

I often wonder why drivers pull past the stop line. Are they in such a hurry to get somewhere that they want to get an edge? Do they not see the line? Or is it because they just don't understand how most lights work?

There was a time when I was ignorant and had to learn the hard way. My lesson came at a bridge under construction, one that was limited to one lane of traffic.

The construction took several months and VDOT, of course, could not keep a flagman there night and day. So, as is customary, they put up a traffic light.

One night I pulled up to the bridge on a red light and waited and waited and waited. I must have waited 10 minutes and that light would not turn green. And the longer I waited, the madder I got.

This bridge was way out in the boondocks and several times I was sorely tempted to just run that red light and head on down the road. But, being one who observes the law, I didn't. Besides, I figured it might be a trap, that some county Mountie might be hiding behind a cow shed with his ticket book in hand.

Then, another car pulled up behind me and we both waited for a couple of minutes. Finally, the other driver got out and approached my window. At first, I thought he was going to suggest that we both just run the light, but he provided me with some valuable information instead.

"You see that sign right there," he began in a very polite manner. "It says to stop AT the white line, not behind it. You're 15 feet behind the line and you're too far back to trip the light. Try moving up!"

I did what he suggested and immediately the yellow light turned on the opposite side.

I, of course, felt like an idiot, but I learned from that experience. When there is a stop line, you pull up to it. You don't go halfway through it and you don't stop 12 feet behind it.

Trying to get that little head start might cost you time and might cause someone else to have an accident.

Like I tell my kids--think!

One more gripe. With millions of dollars' worth of computer equipment at their disposal, how come weathermen can't get a forecast right?

I'm still waiting for that 75-degree weather we were promised last Sunday and for those 4 inches of snow we were sure to get Thursday.

Not a single ray of sunshine Sunday and not a single flake of snow Thursday.

Well, at least the forecasters are consistent.

Maybe it is because of those millions of dollars' worth of computer equipment that they can't get it right.

Maybe weathermen should throw those computers out the window and then look up at the sky while the computers go down.

They'd have a better chance of getting it right!

Donnie Johnston:
Email: djohnston@freelancestar.com





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