The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"You're Number 1!" ... and Other Hand Signals

Each day I receive an email from the Highlands Today newspaper. Well, from the organization. I am fairly sure the paper itself doesn't send anything anywhere, it's an inanimate object that often lines birdcage floors and and finds itself balled up and on fire in a fireplace or wrapped around some fish. Why do people want newsprint on their fish?

Anyway, Sunday's mailing had a link to an article about the most dangerous intersections in this area. It was called, oddly enough:

Where are the most dangerous traffic locations in Highlands?

Highlands is Highlands County where the three cities mentioned exist. I was hoping for a list with the number of incidents at each intersection but I was disappointed. It didn't lay them out in that way. Instead, it randomly jumped around dropping the road names in no particular order. One thing was abundantly clear, the intersections which involve U.S. 27 and have a lot of traffic are the most likely to have accidents. This is no surprise to anyone with a brain, I think. More traffic means more opportunity for mistakes and mistakes create accidents.  The following are also no surprise:

"The worst month was February with 258 accident calls reported. The month with the fewest calls was August, with 173."

Time of year makes a huge impact (pardon the pun) here in terms of traffic accidents. I am just a little surprised that October or November or December are not the worst of the lot. October and November are the two months which see the major influx of "snowbirds" escaping the coming winters of the northern states. These folks come down each year and have to remember where things are here. The year round residents tend to dodge and swerve a lot around snowbird cars driving slow and searching for the road to turn onto, or the store or restaurant they want to visit.

It is no surprise that U.S. 27 is heavily linked to accidents. The speed limit through the intersections mentioned in the story is 55 MPH except for the ones in Avon Park and Lake Placid and a short stretch (about 2 miles) in Sebring (50 MPH); those are 45 MPH zones.  One would think knowing one is approaching a dangerous intersection would be sufficient to induce an increase in caution. But, sadly, it does not.

I have a friend who thinks the speed limit is too high on 27. I tend to disagree. Primarily because there are two speed limits: the posted, legal, limit and the effective limit. The posted one is obvious but the effective one is determined by traffic flow and quantity. In the winter, the effective speed limit is just over 45 MPH along all of 27.  Reading the story, I found something I see all year long:

"A white older vehicle made a right-hand turn off of Sparrow Avenue to travel southbound on U.S. 27. At the same time, a silver sedan made a U-turn at the intersection, switching from northbound to southbound.

The two cars both headed for the middle southbound lane at the same time, but avoided colliding.

The last sentence says it all... We have three lanes in each direction. The law actually states that a driver turning right onto a multi-lane road should stay in the rightmost lane and a driver turning left (or making a U-turn) should stay in the leftmost lane until they reach the speed of traffic. Most people do not follow the law, most swing wide and go almost immediately to the next lane over.

Personally, I think several intersections in our area should have U-turns restricted. Our laws in Florida permit U-turns anywhere that they are not posted as illegal. Because, apparently, we have a lot of places that one cannot simply turn left into but must travel to the next intersection and make a U-turn to get to.

The primary cause of accidents here (and, I am sure, everywhere else) is drivers. And we are not allowed to shoot them.

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