Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Siren Intersection

I've talked about Siren Highway, but Siren Intersection is another story.  Probably about 60% of the time that emergency vehicles race past our house, they are going to a car accident at this one very dangerous intersection in a rural part of our county.  I pass through that intersection almost every time I drive, so I thought I knew all the hazards and illusions it had to offer.

Today I was returning home from getting some x-rays done, heading south on the highway, approaching Siren Intersection.  The traffic coming from the north and south have the right-of-way with no stop signs and a speed limit of 55 MPH.  The traffic coming from the east and west do have stop signs.  The most common accident at this intersection occurs when there is a short break in the north / south traffic, and both the east and west drivers go at the same time, but one is headed straight while the other is making a left.  Boom!  Some left-turners are the cause of the problem because they don't use their turn signals, but other times the turn signal is on, but the sun prevents the other driver from seeing it.

Another common scenario is that someone at a stop sign has their view blocked by a car in the right-hand lane and they don't see that the left lane of the north-south direction is occupied.  They pull out and blam!  They're blind-sided by a ghost car that came out of nowhere.

What happened today was a totally new scenario for me.  I was traveling south with my turn signal on so that I could make a left turn to go east.  There was a break in traffic when a northbound vehicle slowed down into his right-hand turn lane.  It was a long lane, so there was time for me to turn left before he made his right.

I was in the middle of my turn when the west-bound driver stepped on the gas to cross the intersection quickly during the break.  He had a stop sign and did not have the right-of-way until the intersection was clear.  Apparently, he was only looking to his left at the right-turner, and had assumed that I was going straight.  He timed it in his head that I should be out of the intersection by then, but because he didn't look to his right again, he didn't know that I had slowed down to make a left. 

Anyway, I was in my mother's little Toyota Camry and he was driving a big huge RAM diesel truck.  All I saw was his grill bearing down on my driver's side window.  I braced for impact and leaned on my horn while gassing it harder in hopes that he would hit the back seat of the car instead of directly hitting me.  He slammed on his brakes and it was a one-foot miss.  Scary as heck.  You'd better believe I got the biggest shock of adrenaline I've ever experienced.  When I get too much adrenaline pumped too fast into my system, I get light headed and can pass out from fright.

When I looked up in my rear view mirror, the guy was stuck halfway in the intersection because the jerk behind him pulled up to the stop sign, not allowing him to back up, and the north-bound traffic was having to stop.  The driver making the right pulled in behind me much sooner than he should have, so he was probably speeding and adding to the problem by cutting down the time people had to take advantage of the break in traffic.  He was pulling a trailer too, and I know you have to make the turn slow with trailers.  There's a fruit stand right on that corner, so drivers are always pulling on and off the road there at the corner of the intersection.  There are also fruit stand shoppers crossing the street on foot.  So, anybody who lives here locally knows to be cautious when making that turn.  I just couldn't believe that guy couldn't slow down, especially after he saw that I almost got hit by a driver who wasn't paying attention.

Ultimately, all it takes is for a couple of drivers to either not be paying attention or not respecting the speed limit or not respecting someone else's right-of-way in order to cause an accident.  I think it is dangerous to have cross traffic on a busy highway where the speed limit is 55 MPH.  There are many intersections in our community where there is cross traffic even where the speed limit is 65 MPH.  We have memorials off the the side of most of these intersections to honor those who lost their lives when cross traffic pulled out in front of them.  That setup was fine 10 years ago when the population was low and there weren't many vehicles on the road, but now that our community has grown and we have bumper-to-bumper traffic, the county really needs to either lower the speed limit or put in traffic lights. 


fernvalley01 said...

very frightening! Glad you are OK

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Whew! I would have been shaking with fear...and then my legs would have turned to jello.
I'm so glad you weren't hit and that you're ok!


Fantastyk Voyager said...

SCARY!! It's a good thing an accident was avoided.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Glad you didn't get hit by that big truck. We have some intersections around here that are accident prone. Nothing gets done about it. I often wonder how many people have to get hurt or killed before the town or the highway department will make improvements. We have an intersection with a memorial off the side of the road. East/West traffic have stop signs; North/South do not. I've seen many near misses there. It doesn't look menacing or dangerous. But for some reason, numerous drivers either run the stop sign, or don't look both directions carefully when they stop, so they pull right out in front of cars. When I've got the right of way at that intersection, I will still slow and look both ways. I never assume the other drivers will stop when they are supposed to.

KarenTX said...

Oh geesh! Glad you're okay, but it sure gets your blood pumping, doesn't it? I was almost rearended yesterday morning by a teen hurrying to get to school. Couldn't tell, but she was probably texting. Had my BP up for sure for a couple of hours!

Mikey said...

Ok, where are you? No posts since Wed? Been thinking about you since hearing about that plane crash and hoping you weren't there.
So what are you doing? I'm missing my daily fix of Nuzz Muzz!

achieve1dream said...

Crap! They seriously need to put in a street light. I'm so glad you're okay.