Letters to the Editor: Salisbury crash puts spotlight on road safety

The April car crash that killed a 40-year old man hits home and a nerve for me. While I did not personally know him, some friends of my family were close to him. More to the point, I am almost 36 and have three young daughters of my own. I usually strive to be a safe driver, even more so since my oldest child was born. My wife has even been known to call me grandpa on the road.
Much of my adult life has been spent in Middlebury, and we recently moved to Cornwall. I have often seen very unsafe driving demonstrated by other drivers on Route 7, especially between Middlebury and Brandon. Since moving to Cornwall I have seen it on Route 30, too, especially down the big hill past the College campus. In fact everywhere I go I see reckless driving.
Now, I do not claim to be a saint when driving. I have my share of times that I am running late. However, most of the time there is someone sitting behind me ready to take off around me and drive Interstate speeds on our Vermont roads. Many times they don’t even care if they have a safe passing zone. On Route 30 I have been in the oncoming lane when I see this happening. In fact, my oldest daughter and I recently had a near miss with someone who had drifted into my lane near Parkhill Road.
It’s not just speeding and passing either. Too much lately my wife and I notice people driving through red lights. I get that you are in a hurry. Usually we all are, in this fast paced world. Here is a tip, leave home earlier and give yourself ample time to get where you are going without endangering others. Being late is no excuse for breaking the law and risking other people’s lives.
We especially notice this problem at the Route 7 traffic light in front of Mary Hogan School. Yes it is a busy intersection, yes it can be a very quick light change when leaving Mary Hogan, but the yellow light still means caution and prepare to stop! The red light definitely means stop! That light and the next two lights heading south are all entrances near our schools where our children are trying to get to safely and get an education.
I still have one child attending school in the Mary Hogan building, so I know it still happens.
On the flip side, when I am driving, I see pedestrians (and even bikers) not doing their part to be safe. Too often I see people wanting to or actually crossing the street between or even not far from an existing crosswalk. Those are their for everyone’s safety, especially yours. When someone does let you cross, please cross directly and not on an angle just to shorten your distance.
Bottom line, if we all just slow down a little and think about your fellow humans when you are out using our travel infrastructure, incidents like the Salisbury crash will happen a lot less. Put down the devices, follow the rules of the road, and think about how your loved ones would feel if something happened to you on the road.
A couple things I learned in Drivers Education 20 years ago: The white speed limit signs are just that, THE Speed Limit in IDEAL driving conditions. That means if your sight is obscured or the road is not dry and clear, you should not be going 50 or more in a 50 zone. If there is a SOLID Yellow line directly on your left, it is NOT safe for you to pass the person in front of you. By the way, you should not be passing someone unless they are going 10 MPH under the speed limit. Green means Go, Yellow means Caution and prepare to stop, Red (and Octagons) mean Stop.
A little note to officials at the town of Middlebury: during busy times at Mary Hogan, it would help for the traffic light to allow more than three cars out from the school at a time. It would cut down on people running red lights. Also, at the intersection of High and Seminary Streets there is a dangerously obstructed view on the Southeast corner. Unless you want people stopping past the stop lines, the westbound and northbound traffic cannot see each other while stopped.
Ian Ross
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