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SHENK: Moving ads can prove distracting for drivers

MORE: See all local transportation news

So it’s come to this.

The freeways in some areas have become a poor man’s NASCAR, with regular Joes plastering ads on their cars.

A relatively new company (which shall go nameless in this advertisement-free, not free advertising, spot) has started paying drivers to plaster removable ads onto their cars.

Yeah, it’s a neat way for a commuter to make some extra cash.

Aren’t there enough ads along the roadsides?

Just drive along State Route 3. It’s a heavy retail area, so signs are expected.

But in recent times it’s become vogue to have human sign holders dancing or twirling signs—“ONCE IN A LIFETIME BLOWOUT SALE!”—as traffic passes on the highway.

The panhandlers can’t be too happy about it. By the way, those guys are missing out; why don’t they just shill for some of those stores?

It’s not just the people signs, though.

Also along Route 3 there is the occasional caravan of trucks with huge signs—“ONCE IN A LIFETIME BLOWOUT SALE!”—filling up the beds.

Talk about distracted driving.

All of these moving ads are just that, unneeded distractions for drivers.

Dear Scott: The traffic light at the intersection of Lake Anna Parkway/Route 208 and Morris Road changes whether anyone is there to enter the parkway or not.

I drive that route often at 10 or so in the evening and have been halted several times by the light. There is no one there. It is not a long stop but is an annoying stop/idle/start that uses gas unnecessarily.

Can’t that light be changed to blinking red/yellow at that hour?

Also, is the traffic light at the next corner (Morris Road and Route 648) really still needed?

Again, maybe blinking yellow for Route 606 and red for Route 648.

—Jim Salisbury, Spotsylvania

You’ll have to deal with the irritating stop light for a while longer, but the Virginia Department of Transportation will be fixing a detection camera problem by March.

The intersection has four cameras but two of them go into “fail safe” mode at night because they struggle to detect vehicles, VDOT’s Kelly Hannon said. The fail safe mode puts the lights on a set, timed pattern, regardless of the traffic.

VDOT will replace the four cameras with one set up in the center of the intersection. The camera also will have a better software program loaded into it.

As for switching to blinking lights, don’t expect that to happen at either intersection.

Hannon says VDOT’s philosophy is that drivers need consistency.

“That’s why traffic engineers in each state follow a national manual for items such as highway signs, lane markings and signals. The more drivers can expect what they will encounter, the safer it is for all travelers.”

Hannon also said the signal is needed at the Route 648 intersection because of limited sight distance.

VDOT considered a four-way stop there, but determined the signal works best.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com 

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