December 11, 2012

Editorial: Think ahead while driving


---- — It’s never been clear why this is so, but it is: Most people think they rank with the world’s great drivers and that everybody else on the road ranks with the worst. That is, obviously, flawed thinking.

For example, if you are stopped in the driving lane awaiting room to turn left instead of pulling over into the turn late to wait it out, you can be sure somebody stopped behind you is giving you the once over. (And you may deserve it.)

Human nature’s sharpest critics are stationed behind the wheels of most of the vehicles on the road today.

But one driving faux pas that truly boils the blood of other drivers — deservedly so — is stopping in traffic so a perpendicular street or roadway is closed off. We’ve seen this time and again at the west exit from the Price Chopper/Lowe’s plaza, right next to Friendly’s Restaurant.

A traffic light at that intersection is designed to control the flow of vehicles east and west on Route 3 and into and out of that shopping center and Labarre Street, directly across from the exit.

What typically happens during busy times of the day, however, is that cars going east on Route 3, toward downtown, will proceed through the intersection and become trapped there, halfway through, by the next light. The volume of traffic will often sentence that car to an entire sequence of lights so that others trying to get out of the shopping center are stuck.

The irritation on the faces of the drivers immobilized in line trying to get out onto Route 3 is clearly visible. Some day, physical violence will erupt over the predicament.

The problem can continue for more than one sequence of lights, as more cars go down Route 3 and commit the same error.

That is not the only intersection in the area, or the entire region, for that matter, where that mistake is rampant.

That’s the reason for a sign being erected at Addoms Street, off Cornelia just above the CVPH Medical Center, that warns that it’s a violation of state law to block a side roadway. Apparently, Cornelia Street drivers were stopping across the mouth of Addoms Street, stranding drivers there who wanted to get out into traffic.

Actually, the opportunity for this kind of thoughtlessness is available along any busy thoroughfare. The City of Plattsburgh took action years ago on Rugar Street where Plattsburgh High School traffic empties. That traffic is now directed to turn right into the flow rather than holding up a long line while trying to turn left or go straight, across the grain (though we still see many transgressions of that rule).

When driving, think ahead of the consequences of your actions. Are you going to hold up traffic by clogging an intersection?

It’s common courtesy and — as we learn at Addoms Street — it’s the law.