Risky left turn a threat to our well-being

Friday, December 5, 2008

We were flabbergasted at the audacity of a left turn by a motorist who then drove south on North Fifth Avenue by way of a right turn lane.

You'd almost have to be there at what could be called Lewisburg's intersection of infamy if it didn't have such a hard-hitting name already. It's where Rock Crusher Road goes south to Ellington Parkway and faces North Fifth Avenue.

My co-worker was driving. We were going to lunch and were stopped on North Fifth Avenue waiting to turn west onto the Parkway, or go straight across onto Rock Crusher Road.

It's where several city leaders have advocated placement of a traffic light.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee Department of Transportation said there's not enough traffic to warrant placement of such a traffic control device. Apparently that's changed this month.

Seated high in a big four-door pickup truck, my co-worker and I were looking for an opening in traffic so she could drive from North Fifth Avenue. I looked to the right, down hill, and saw a smallish sedan coming up the bypass. The car's left turn signal was blinking.

Instead of coming to the intersection and turning in front of us, the sedan went behind us on the right turn lane, thereby going in the wrong direction on that turn lane.

The driver might have had a clear view of that quadrant of the intersection and the use of a north-bound avenue's right turn lane to illegally go south after turning left was admittedly efficient, maybe even swift in a movie chase scene, but for a short distance, maybe 500 feet, the sedan was going in the wrong direction with part of the short cut being on a one-lane section of road.

Now, to borrow a phrase used by a U.S. Army soldier who recently sent us an e-mail from Baghdad: "I have just one question."

Could the Redflex brand of traffic cameras help catch the driver of that sedan?

Redflex of Phoenix, Ariz., wants a contract with Lewisburg to install traffic cameras coupled with radar guns to ticket speeders and drivers who run red lights. Presumably, one of their cabinets, complete with flash attachment, could be posted at the intersection when traffic signals are installed, or further uphill from Rock Crusher Road near the KFC restaurant, or even between the two so one installation could watch both intersections.

The cameras capture images of vehicles and license plates that are illuminated by a flash. That data substantiate tickets mailed to the people listed as the registered owners of speeding cars and trucks running red lights.

Redflex salesmen say traffic cameras have helped catch bank robbers and their system is capable of providing evidence for police responding to an Amber Alert to recover a missing child.

Maybe the system works and will reduce flabbergastric attacks.

Maybe police could patrol the intersection and/or park a cruiser there.

Maybe the Redflex system should become an issue for Lewisburg's election in May.