Editorial: Tragedy puts focus on road’s safety

 

Those blinking yellow lights at the intersection of U.S. Route  522 and Lake Frederick in Frederick County are doing little to slow traffic on that hilly four-lane highway.

The speed limit is 55 mph, but to anyone traveling on it – as I did on Thursday morning – it’s obvious that some drivers are going faster than 55. Attempting to pull out onto that highway as cars and tractor trailers zoom by is like trying to make a right turn onto Interstate 81.

Those lights should be signaling green, yellow and red just like the lights near the Warren County Fairgrounds. Smears from tire tread on the roadway near that light are an indicator of just how fast some vehicles are traveling before hitting the breaks to stop at that light.

Head north on U.S. 522 and the next red light is miles away at Double Tollgate. One way to interrupt speeding on that stretch is to turn all of the traffic signals on at the Lake Frederick intersection. Yellow blinking lights aren’t doing the job.

Tragic incidents tend to put a spotlight on problems that need to be fixed. In this case it was a multi-vehicle crash Wednesday at the U.S. 522 and Lake Frederick intersection. A Front Royal man known by thousands of people who shop at the Winchester Costco was driving on U.S. 522 when the crash occurred. In trying to avoid the other vehicles, his car ran off the road and crashed into a utility poll. He died a few hours later at the hospital.

Word of the death of Ronald Travis spread quickly through social media on Wednesday evening. A Facebook memory page – “Random Acts of Kindness in Memory of ‘Shag'”http://tiny.cc/mwamcy – was launched by Costco shoppers and a petition to have the red lights turned on was set up at change.org – http://tiny.cc/0vamcy.

Travis, known by Costco shoppers by his nickname Shag, checked receipts and baskets as they left the store. He offered his contagious smile, a friendly greeting and often his parting “keep smiling and be safe” to those he cleared.  Some Costco shoppers may still see one of his gifts to them – a smiley face on their receipts.

For the sake of drivers traveling that highway where tragedy struck Wednesday, let’s get those traffic signals fully activated.

Linda O’Dell Ash is editor of the Northern Virginia Daily. Contact her at lash@nvdaily.com.

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