2007-01-18 / Editorial


It's okay to stop, really it is

It gets worse every year. Stop signs, red lights, yield signs, pedestrian crosswalks. These are some examples of places where it's entirely appropriate for motorists to bring their car to a complete stop. For some unknown reason, the mantra of the average driver today is, "Just gotta get there, just gotta get there," and stopping has become a thing of the past, like getting up to turn the channel dial on the television and heating up leftovers in a pot on top of the stove.

The rules about what to do at a four-way stop sign are pretty straightforward. The driver who stops first, goes first. At the spot known in Jamestown as the "four corners," which includes the blinking light right near the post office, the rules seem to depend on which driver gets there first. It's not unusual to see three cars coming from the south on Southwest Avenue all make consecutive right turns on to Narragansett Avenue. This is when there are other cars stopped in the other spokes of the intersection. And at the corner of Conanicus and Narragansett Avenues, in front of the Bay View condominiums, a second turning lane has mysteriously appeared. I'll never forget the first time I was sitting at that stop sign, actually stopped, and actually waiting for my turn, when a young man squeaked past me on the right at about 40 mph to make a right onto Narragansett. He was so close I could have pinched his nose. There is

only one lane there!

As one approaches the on ramp to Route 138 heading west, there is a yield sign that asks drivers to slow down and take a look to see what's coming before plowing boldly into traffic coming off the Newport Bridge. More often than not, drivers put their heads down, grip the steering wheel, close their eyes, and judge the conditions by the sounds of frantic horn blowing that ensues.

When one car stops in the roadway to make a left turn and is waiting for oncoming traffic to pass, it's okay for the car behind to come to a stop rather than create an imaginary lane and swerve to pass on the right.

Stopping is really not a bad thing. In fact, it gives a driver a chance to look around and see who's walking on the sidewalks, give a wave to those eating lunch at East Ferry, read the sandwich board signs put up by various chorus, youth, and other groups to announce their upcoming events.

Cars have brakes for very good reasons. Give them a try once in a while!

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