Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bermuda has its Triangle, our house has the Junction of Death.

I turned into my street yesterday evening, fresh from my painless commute on the LIRR (no unnecessary trips to Great Neck this time) to see flashing red lights in the distance.
"Here we go again" I said to myself. "I wonder if I can get into my own driveway this time".
Then I had a quick flashback to a year last March1 and thought "I wonder if the problem is in the driveway?"

The corner on which my house stands is part of what we call in England a staggered junction, like a cross-roads with one "arm" displaced laterally, and it has some sort of weird genius loci that twists space, distorts perceptions and deactivates the brains of people negotiating it. I sometimes refer to the corner occupied by Chateau Stevie as Dead Man's Corner because we get on average four or five nasty pile-ups there a year. This year we had been lucky in that we had seen no accidents. Until yesterday.

Ignoring the frantic hand signals and explicit language of the harried voluteer fireman trying to get traffic to turn left instead of trying to plough through the wreckage, I turned right into my drive (which was not, as it turned out, the venue for this event after all) and got out to survey the scene. From what I could see, one of the neighbours had been pulling out to make a left turn from the side road that runs along the east side of my property and had been T-boned by a Honda coming down the main stretch outside the front of the house. There were two passengers in each vehicle, but the bone-ee got the worse of the transaction and both the driver and her little girl ended up on stretchers going to the E.R. once they were cut out of what looked like a Ford Tarus.

I'll say this for Ford: They make a sturdy product in the Tarus. It took the firemen about ten minutes to remove the driver's-side door with the Jaws of Life and the Claw of Damage.

Everyone involved seemed to be responsive when they were loaded into the ambulances. I hope this is representative of their general health after this debacle. People go too fast along the main road and don't check carefully enough when emerging onto it. Some road users, oblivious to the supernatural properties of this junction and the malevolent demons infesting it try and help matters by doing things like:

  • Playing their sound systems so loudly that they couldn't possibly hear a horn being blown to warn of an obstruction or hazard
  • Yakking on their cell phones sans hands-free kit
  • Parking along the property line so as to obstruct the line of sight of other drivers (I generally intervene here and request they move their car ten yards around the corner. I generally get told to "Go f--- myself")
  • Stealth techniques such as running after dark with no lights or roller skating on the wrong side of the road while dressed from head to toe in black3

Not sure where I'm going with this, other than a general desire to stop having to watch people being cut out of cars, unfolded from motorcycles or scraped off the road. I once had a conversation with a police officer about the problem during the cleanup of a similar event. The officer opined that people just drove too fast, an oversimplication but essentially true. I said that they should put a radar-activated sign up to show people their speed. The officer replied that such things were hugely unpopular with the property owners. I told her that I was the property owner and would welcome the device since it would cut my phone bills considerably if it worked. I also offered to host a speed camera. I've heard nothing.

Oddly, no-one's airbags had deployed even though the ding in the Ford was indicative of a Honda impacting at roadway speeds.

Oh, and assuming everything happened as it appeared to from the vehicle positions, the Honda had right of way.

1: A little episode we like to call The Day We Tried To Go To Dinner With Friends We Hadn't Seen Since New Year's Eve After A Full Day At I-Con And Ended Up Instead Returning Home To Deal With The Tw*t Who Parked An Osamamobile In2 Our Front Lawn
2: Yes, in
3: That was the time we had a thirteen year old thrown almost over the fence. That kid got an instant lesson on the nature of momentum and against all odds lived to remember it

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