The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Getting There: Traffic here can be bad, but in India it’s far worse
BY SCOTT SHENK
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
We’ve got plenty to complain about around here when it comes to the roads.
Interstate 95 stinks. It’s supposed to get you places faster, but mostly you just crawl along in a mass of vehicles.
Some lights around here stay red too long because they aren’t synchronized with lights at nearby intersections.
Then, as the deadly May 2011 Sky Express bus crash and ensuing investigation showed us, we have to share the roads with half-asleep, unqualified bus drivers who at any minute might veer out of control.
With all that said, a little perspective might help relieve your traffic-induced stress.
Be thankful, for example, that you don’t have to get around in India. Go to YouTube and type in India traffic to see the chaos that exists there.
In February, the BBC reported on a head-on crash in India between a bus and a truck that killed 23 people returning from a wedding. The next month, another BBC story detailed a crash in which a school bus avoiding a bike plunged off a bridge and into a canal, killing 16 children.
In May, the BBC reported on another head-on crash between a bus and truck that killed 18 people returning from a funeral. And, earlier this month, another BBC story detailed a bus crash in which at least 39 died. The bus skidded off a road and plunged some 300 feet into the Chamba Valley.
Each story noted that India has the world’s highest number of road deaths—110,000 every year. (In the U.S. last year, just more than 32,000 died in crashes.) Most crashes in India, the BBC added, are caused by reckless driving, poor roads and aging vehicles.
Too many people die on our roads every year, and there are real issues with crumbling infrastructure. And, yes, we do spend too much time sitting in traffic and at red lights. But overall, we’ve got it pretty good.
Dear Scott: The sign for the upcoming Interstate 95 northbound Falmouth/Warrenton off-ramp just says “Warrenton.”
Motorists assume there is an additional exit for Falmouth, and must scramble to the exit when they realize at the last minute that both Falmouth and Warrenton are on the same exit (Exit 133).
I’ve witnessed several near-accidents, and wonder why it hasn’t been replaced due to the fact that it is WRONG, and a safety issue. It’s been like this for years.
—Gail Ford, Falmouth
The Virginia Department of Transportation agrees with you.
Spokeswoman Kelly Hannon noted that while there is a sign before the exit telling travelers that the exit is an access to U.S. 17 Business to Falmouth, it comes “before the decision point” for drivers looking for the exit. VDOT will see if the wording can be changed on the sign closest to the exit so drivers know they can use it to get to Falmouth. They want to take that approach because the existing exit sign’s structure is designed to hold only the current sign’s weight.
Dear Scott: It seems as though many Fredericksburg area drivers are unaware of the “etiquette” of driving through traffic circles. Since we now have a couple of these in our region, would you please review the rules?
—Anne Kight Lloyd, Stafford
While roundabouts generally prove difficult for those unfamiliar with them, the overriding rule is simple: Outsiders must yield to vehicles already in the roundabout. Follow that rule and you should be good to go.
Yet some roundabouts, like the one at the Spotsylvania Towne Centre, can be a little more confusing.
That one has two lanes, so follow the directions on the signs.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436