Link using turn signals with `please'


May 28, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

READERS HAVE proposed still more rules to make Howard's roads safer. Hilbert Turner Jr. of Columbia suggests three.

"Turn signals are supposed to signify intent to make a turn at an intersection or change lanes. However, too many motorists (including police officers) either don't use turn signals at all or flip them on after they are more than halfway into the next lane. The latter is like taking food off someone's plate, then asking for a bite. If drivers learned to associate using turn signals with the word please, a lot of strife could be avoided," he said. Actually, Mr. Turner, using one's signals is a written rule. Apparently, on some cars, turn signals, like cigarette ashtrays, are optional.

"The YIELD sign appears to have lost all its meaning," Turner said. "Many drivers fail to give the right of way to vehicles already traveling on the thoroughfare they are entering. They seem to expect drivers in the lane they are merging onto to slow down or move over one lane without regard to the potential hazard a sudden shift or sudden braking at high speed may present."

Turner also took note of drivers who should be in the slow lane. "Slower traffic now has a tendency to travel in the second lane from the right instead of the far right `slow lane.' This is especially common on westbound Route 100 coming off of southbound Interstate 95. For some reason that will remain a mystery to me, motorists routinely go from the I-95 off-ramp, which becomes the right lane of Route 100 at that point, into the center lane and cruise at 50 mph. Traffic that is already in that lane must either brake, potentially causing a chain reaction collision, or pass them on the right side. Then when they need to get to Snowden River Parkway or Route 108, they will cross the slow lane to exit," he said.

He said that this is not an "out-of-towner" phenomenon. "I have seen the same cars with Maryland tags do this on several occasions," he said.

Although these are all on Maryland's law books, it bears repeating: Signal your intent when turning or changing lanes, yield to oncoming traffic in merge situations and stay to the right unless you are passing other vehicles.

Poetry on the road

Columbia's John Snyder believes that if you "obey the written rules, the unwritten rules take care of themselves." Instead of more unwritten rules, he instead submits something he read in this newspaper. "Several years ago, I cut out a little wisdom from an unknown poet that appeared in The Sun. It pretty much defines my driving philosophy," he said.

This is the grave of Mike O'Day

Who died maintaining his right of way.

His right was clear,

His will was strong,

But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

A very good question

Ann Henry of Ellicott City brings up a beef she has with some drivers. "Why do some drivers leave a two to three car space between themselves and the car in front of them at traffic lights? When the light turns green, it causes a number of cars to not make the light in time. But the `laid back' guy gets through every time. He's usually the last car, but he gets through," she said.

Well, Ms. Henry, these drivers are either careless or couldn't care less about the cars behind them. What does everyone else think?

Pfeiffer Place closing

Howard County drivers can expect changes to Pfeiffer Place and the intersection of Old Montgomery Road and Route 108. The county will be straightening out the intersection and closing Pfeiffer Place. Currently, motorists on Old Montgomery Road who want to turn right onto Route 108 east can avoid the light at the intersection by turning onto Pfeiffer Place. At the Old Montgomery Road side of Pfeiffer Place, the county will install a dead-end sign; at the Route 108 side, a "T" turnaround will be constructed and access to Route 108 eliminated. Although straightening the intersection will require cutting into Waterloo Elementary School's right of way, these improvements will allow school buses easier access to the school's parking lot.

For years, members of the St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church have lobbied the county to close the road. They will get their wish when the county begins the construction at the end of June; construction should be completed before the new school year begins.

Reading and riding

The Howard County Library is kicking off its Summer Reading Program at 10:30 a.m. June 3 at the east Columbia branch. The program, which encourages reading among young people and senior citizens, encourages readers to use public transportation to get to the libraries, and has as its theme "Race to Read."

Information: 410-313-7750.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at Technophobes can mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044, or fax 410-715-2816.

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