Our opinion: State DOT can't save drivers from themselves
The state Department of Trans por tation's review of the dangerous Len ox intersection at Route 7 & 20 and Holmes Road is welcome. Anyone who has shopped at the small store complex has probably had occasion to wince at least once at a near-miss as cars hurtle through the traffic lights. There is no legislating caution and respect for the rules of the road, however, which is a larger problem than the layout of the intersection.
There have been 17 accidents at the site in the last four years, including two particularly bad accidents within the last eight days. In each of the last two incidents, a driver was charged with making an illegal left turn on a green light, which took them into the traffic coming the other way on a green light. In Tuesday's accident that left one person seriously injured, the driver was charged on multiple counts.
Too many drivers assume that a green light is an automatic go, even if it means turning into vehicles that also have a green light. By the same token, too many drivers assume that right on red is the equivalent of a green light, which also results in them driving into traffic that has a green light. Both interpretations are incorrect and highly dangerous and care should always be taken to look for warning signs and to judge what oncoming traffic is doing.
Pittsfield has a similar situation at West and Center streets, where drivers going west on West can turn onto Center with a green arrow but also have the chance to do so when the light is green for all lanes. Drivers often make that left turn on the green light while ignoring traffic heading up West Street to Park Square, which also has a green light. There have been close calls and an accident appears inevitable.
There is only so much the DOT can do to protect drivers from themselves. Besides exercising caution and following the rules of the road, it is incumbent upon drivers to only drive while sober and obey the speed limit, and for drivers and passengers to use seatbelts. It takes only one mistake to wreck or end a life -- and to gain a criminal record that, like guilt, can last a lifetime.
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