The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Getting There: VDOT takes fresh look at problematic U–turn sign in Stafford
BY SCOTT SHENK
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
It’s not unusual for this time of year, but it seems like serious and deadly crashes have spiked recently.
It’s not just here.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently pointed out that an estimated 7,630 people died in car crashes nationwide in the first quarter of 2012.
That’s up some 13.5 percent over the 6,720 killed in crashes during the same time last year, according to AAA.
In Virginia, the number of fatalities so far this year—408—is about the same as 2011—405—according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
(Before you feel good about the lack of a deadly spike in our state, keep reading.)
Whatever the numbers are for deadly crashes to this point, AAA warns that summer is the deadliest time of the year on the roads for young drivers.
So before you send your teens out on the road, consider looking over this website (teendriving.aaa.com/VA) with them.
Now is an especially good time to do this in the commonwealth, as AAA points out that August is the deadliest month for Virginia drivers.
Dear Scott: Any way to get VDOT to relocate the “NO U–TURN” sign at the commuter lot off State Route 610 behind the McDonald’s from before the intersection to under the traffic light?
When drivers go that extra five feet to the intersection, they’ve forgotten they’ve seen the “NO U–TURN” sign and make the turn, narrowly missing cars coming out of the commuter lot who are making a right turn after stopping for the red light.
And, since the drivers making the illegal U–turn think they are in the right, they get very irate (finger-waving and such) and blame the commuter vehicle for the near collision.
—Nancy Swartout, Stafford
VDOT engineers checked out the intersection and the department has decided to make some changes, said Kelly Hannon with VDOT.
First, they’ll replace the current No U–turn sign and keep it at the same spot, but they also will add a new sign to the far median beneath the Keep Right sign. She said VDOT would have to do a structural review if a sign were added to the traffic signal arm. So they’ll try to avoid that and see if the new signs help keep drivers from making the illegal U–turns.
Dear Scott: There seems to be an issue with the traffic light in King George County that’s at the intersection of State Route 3 and Madison Drive (on the Presidential Lakes side) and Barbara’s Way (on the post office side).
When one car is crossing Route 3 from Barbara’s Way to Madison Drive, the light turns yellow before one can make it across the intersection, and sometimes even red as one reaches Madison Drive.
If there’s more than one car crossing through the intersection from Barbara’s Way, it doesn’t seem to be as big of an issue, but I’m not sure if the last car crossing over has the same issue as I have not been in the rear of such a “processional.”
I hope VDOT will revisit this light and adjust the timing. Thanks!
—Shirley Braden, King George
Basically, most lights work like this because of safety and efficiency, Hannon said.
The typical traffic signal is set up to give minimum “green time” while still allowing cars to make it through the intersection, she said.
If a car moves into the intersection and no others follow, the light quickly switches to yellow. Then there is a period where all lights at the intersection are red to allow cars to safely make it through the intersection.
“This,” Hannon said, “provides the most efficient operation for the traffic signals, while still providing safe conditions.”
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436