To the editor:
I find it strange that everybody has ignored the cause of head-on crashes that have had such deadly consequences recently.
I believe that an impenetrable barrier is clearly needed on the Newport/Pell Bridge. However, the lack of that barrier has not caused any head-on crashes. The lack of that barrier has merely failed to prevent head-on crashes on that stretch of road.
Head-on crashes are caused by the driver of one or more vehicles crossing the yellow line/center of the roadway into oncoming traffic. Crossing the yellow/centerline of a roadway is a violation. However, if there are oncoming vehicles within 200 feet, it involves reckless driving and a possible accident.
In addition, the vast majority of drivers who cross the yellow/centerline of a roadway do so deliberately, and not because they were pushed there by other vehicles during a crash. Many drivers deliberately cross the yellow/centerline of a roadway a hundred times or more per year, risking their lives and the lives of others for their own reasons; like straightening the road, or claiming the center of a two lane road, or parking on the left side of the road, or making a Rhode Island left turn driving on the left side of the road.
Tiverton will soon encounter a new yellow-line problem with a new crosswalk sign in the middle of Main Road — to improve pedestrian safety for a coffee shop without required parking.
The vast majority of head-on crashes are preventable, just as the vast majority of all vehicle accidents are preventable. Nearly all traffic accidents are preventable by merely following the law and the rules of the road.
Head-on crashes can be avoided by drivers avoiding (illegally) crossing the yellow/centerline of the road. Rear-end collisions can be avoided by utilizing the safe following distance (one vehicle length for every 10 mph under ideal road conditions), or the legal following distance (three vehicle lengths/44 feet for every 10 mph – somewhat excessive and impossible to follow), etc. Every violation of a rule of the road diminishes the safety of the road for all who travel on the road.
Many believe that it is impossible to strictly enforce all the rules of the road. However, if a list of the top 12 rules of the road that result in accidents is attacked one at a time on a monthly basis by groups of several police officers across the state, with resultant violations and fines highly publicized, then soon, drivers will learn to follow the law, and lives and money will be saved —or the budget funding problems of the state will be solved by the resulting fines.
Roger A. Bennis