Sunday, January 9, 2011

What's So Hard About "One Way"?

What do you think this sign means?
I live in a small sub-division comprised of narrow, one-way streets. Signs, just like the above, are all over the place. If you're at an intersection in my neighborhood, there's either a "One Way" sign, a "Do Not Enter" sign or both. Even absent those signs, the streets' rights of way are only one car width wide when you subtract the on-street parking on both sides: all the parked cars are faced in the direction of the one-way flow.

Somehow, all of these indicators of the one-way nature of my neighborhood's streets don't seem to manage to breach many drivers' awarenesses. On a daily basis, there's usually someone going the wrong way down one or more of the streets in my neighborhood. Even worse, these twits are usually speeding.

Tonight, Donna had to run out to (the soon to be shuttered) local Shoppers Food Warehouse to pick up some last minute cooking supplies. I was trying to watch football. I heard the familiar sound of her Saturn pulling-in to park. Then, I heard shrieking. I shoved on my slippers and ran outside to find out what the commotion was. As I got out the front door, a primer-grey Ford van was speeding away, the wrong way, down the street that Ts into our street.

At first, I figured, "Donna's trying to yell at someone they're going the wrong way." As I said, it's fairly much of a daily occurrence. However, her tenor was a lot more strident and frantic. So, I tried to sort out why she was so keyed-up. Apparently, the initial "wrong way" screaming she'd done was because the van had been going the wrong way down our street. The driver had apparently stopped, turned around (to, presumably start driving in the correct direction) and hit a car parked in front of one of our neighbors' houses. I'd come out just in time to see the guy speeding away from the collision (and doing so the wrong way down a different street).

I asked, "did you get his plate". Sadly, she'd not gotten the plate, as she'd been too frantic trying to get the go to stop. I was just getting my phone out to report the hit-and-run when the same van I'd seen speeding off was coming back up the street.

I'd tried flagging the driver down. At first, he made like he was going to try to get by me, but eventually pulled to the curb. As he was backing up, I took a picture of his plate (lest I forget the plate number in the excitement) and then called the police.

To their credit, Fairfax county definitely gives you your money's worth on EMS for your taxes. A cruiser was there in under ten minutes from the time I'd hit "send" on my cellphone.

I gave the cop a brief summary of the situation and took Donna into the house to calm down.
It's quite likely our collective reaction was out of scale. I dunno. It's just tiring to have idiots speeding the wrong way down our streets, particularly at night. Capping it off with hitting a neighbor's car and initially driving off does nothing to reduce the agitation of things. Trying to use the excuse "I was lost" not only doesn't excuse the act, it pisses us off worse. I mean, when I'm in unfamiliar areas, I try extra hard to follow street signs and not speed - particularly at night.


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