No, please. After you! Not at Westport’s dodgiest intersection
Updated 5:57 am, Friday, June 26, 2015
This is the first of what I hope to be an occasional piece on a topic that drives me nuts: driving in this town.
First, full disclosure. I am not a civil engineer, city planner, Department of Transportation employee or anything close to an expert on traffic laws, urban planning or psychology.
In fact, I am a married, middle-aged father of four (two grown; two still in elementary school), who has finally ditched the daily train commute into the New York City and now spends most of his time in Westport and neighboring towns. With the exception of a few years living in the city (with weekend and holiday visits here), I have lived in Westport and Weston for almost 25 years. Through my daily routine of driving kids around and running typical family errands, I have come to the conclusion that most people in this town are either too busy, too tired, too distracted or far too self-important to drive civilly and in accordance with the rules of the road.
I would like to point out a few of the more obvious “trouble spots” that seem to almost invite rudeness and civil disobedience, and humbly suggest a practical solution or two to these problems. My hope is that, perhaps, a “common sense” fix to these problems will ease both your daily driving experience and my high blood pressure.
Problem: Corner of Post Road East, Roseville Road (from the north) and Hillspoint Road (from the south). You know this intersection — the one with McDonald’s, Sakura restaurant, a Gulf station and a mysteriously vacant, weedy plot on its four corners. Why is it that this intersection just dares Roseville Road southbound drivers waiting at the red light to attempt to make a left turn on to eastbound Post Road at full speed in front of oncoming traffic when the light turns green?
It’s fascinating to me, as I’ve never seen such engine-revving, corner-cutting, “gun-jumping” behavior at any other left-turn opportunity in town. What makes it worse is that this is a very long left turn, around a cement median strip, with oncoming northbound traffic moving at a decent clip and cars slowly exiting the Gulf gas station just after you make the left turn.
People, please. You all passed your driver’s test. Everybody knows the rules. But, as a friendly reminder, here’s the relevant provision from the “Right of Way” chapter of the State of Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Manual (July 2014 revision): “Drivers turning left must yield to oncoming vehicles going straight.” That’s it. No exceptions. Not one. Not even if you’re running late or driving a Porsche. You have to wait. I know, you hate to wait. Everybody hates to wait. But you just have to, or someday, the right side of your shiny new Tesla is going to meet the front end of my slightly rusty 13-year-old Jeep Wrangler. And when that happens, you will have to pay to fix my 13-year-old rusty bumper.
Solution: Maybe the forgoing will shame you left-turning offenders into changing your ways. I doubt it, so I offer a very easy solution, which can easily be implemented by the state Department of Transportation, and which will force you to behave civilly at this intersection. Simply delay the southbound green light on Roseville Road by five seconds. That’s it. Nothing more. In those five seconds, the northbound Hillspoint traffic will have enough of a head start to make it obvious to even that 16-year-old kid in his new BMW that he can’t make a left turn until oncoming traffic has passed.