Didn’t they pass a law banning texting while driving? You’d never know it judging by what I see around town lately. Recently, I was behind a small SUV with a mommy driving and a carseat in the back. She was going about 25 mph on Otis Street, where the speed limit is 40. She was all over the road, weaving from one side to the other. When she finally meandered into the left lane and turned into the gymnastics place without using a turn signal, I saw the problem: texting.
Next, I was driving up the back access road to Northboro Crossing. A young driver was coming down the hill slowly travelling across the yellow line threatening a head-on collision. His head was turned completely down, like he was praying. I blew the horn. Texting.
My husband drives an oil truck. He rides high off the road and can see in most other vehicles. He says the new law has done nothing to slow down the texters. He sees it everywhere, all the time. Is it OK to text at a red light? Inevitably the texter fails to notice that it’s turned green and horns blare. If you have the misfortune to experience this waiting to cross over route 9, southbound on Lyman Street, it can take several changes of the light before you get through. It is the shortest green light in the entire state of Massachusetts.
What IS OK? How about just talking on the phone while driving? Checking voice mail, which requires entering digits? Searching for a contact in your phone while driving? Having an argument with a family member or a heated discussion with a client? Are you really paying attention to the road?
The rotary in downtown Westborough is a place where bad manners, ignorance, and cell phone abuse converge resulting in daily mayhem. At least several times a week I see some blissfully unaware phone-yakker go blowing through the rotary as if the rest of the world didn’t exist. They text as they crawl through in traffic during rush hour, threatening rear-end collisions. They chat as they tear around the circle at 40 mph like it’s the Indy 500.
Our town is full of challenging traffic situations that demand 100% of your attention. Can anyone relate to these trouble spots: how about backing out of a space in front of the Glass Heron or Westboro Package Store? Ha! Good luck with THAT! You need nerves of steel and the patience of a saint, plus a little good luck that some rare, charitable person might actually see you and let you out. Left turn out of High Street onto East Main? Left turn out of Flanders between noon and 1:30? How about the ultimate test of skill: right turn out of Church with a quick left onto Ruggles or School? Ever try a left turn out of Grove across Milk? There’s no sign that says you can’t. Even when there IS a sign that says you can’t, people try it anyway. Like route 135 at route 9 under the bridge, you cannot turn left to get on the westbound side. Or coming out of Westmeadow Plaza at the Charlotte Klein end. Which reminds me, that folks are frequently seen driving down the wrong side of the entrance to Westmeadow as well.
Hard to believe but I see this fairly often: cars going the wrong way down Summer Street heading into the rotary; cars turning onto Milk the wrong way from the rotary. It’s a regular occurrence that people fail to yield as they enter the rotary from East Main, causing spectacular T-bones.
If you are a pedestrian in the downtown area, use common sense. Cross at the crosswalks. Make eye contact with the driver before stepping out in to the street. Never assume they see you there. I walk through the rotary every morning. I wear a brightly colored jacket to increase my chances of survival. I find about 50% of the drivers stop to let me cross. Some of them probably would let me cross, if they stopped texting and talking on the phone and had some situational awareness.
The appropriate place for speeding cars going around in a circle is at the racetrack. Which brings me to a great idea put forth by my husband: with BJ’s gone, and who needs two Stop and Shops in town, isn’t it time to bring back the Westboro Speedway? Now there’s a driving distraction.