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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wastin' tax dollars the roundabout way

Note: As the issue of road maintenance in SC heats up, I've linked to information that was published after this post appeared.

What could be dumber than placing concrete obstacles (aka roundabouts) in the middle of the road in an effort to control speed? In my neighborhood (the Quail Hollow subdivision in West Columbia, South Carolina) such an effort has already resulted in at least one serious accident. But before we go any further, let's look at a few facts:

Most accidents occur at UNDER 40 mph. Lemme repeat: MOST ACCIDENTS OCCUR AT UNDER 40 MPH.

Motorists who consistently drive 10-15 mph OVER the posted speed limit have the fewest accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did a ten year study which showed that a whopping EIGHTY PERCENT of accidents are caused by DISTRACTION. Of the remaining twenty percent, most involve drunk driving, leaving only THREE PERCENT that MAY involve speed.

The safest posted speed limit is the speed that 85 percent of motorists would travel at if there were no posted limit. Unfortunately, in the interests of generating revenue via setting speed limits unreasonably low, the "85th percentile" is seldom if ever applied.

Along the road where the two roundabouts were constructed, there hadn't been any accidents - certainly nothing significant - in over 30 years. That's right, folks: THIRTY YEARS. But within about a week after one of them had been installed, some hapless motorist - not expecting to encounter such an obstacle in the road - slammed into a roundabout doing serious damage - possibly totalling - their vehicle. The motorist is lucky the car didn't explode. Or catapult into another vehicle. Or hit a pedestrian.

And I'm not about to blame the motorist. If you're gonna place highly unusual - and unnecessary - obstacles in the middle of the road, there needs to be a very unique warning system in place. After the accident occurred, a blinking caution light was added. Also, before allowing traffic, the county should have put dirt in the wide, deep hole - presumably designed for shrubbery - in the middle of the roundabout. After the accident, the hole was filled.

What a waste of taxpayer money. The street where the roundabouts set is best suited to be a through street, devoid of hindrances to the flow of traffic. After all, the object isn't to drive a certain speed, stop a certain way, or turn a certain way. The object is to AVOID HAVING ACCIDENTS. Several years ago, unnecessary stop signs were placed where the roundabouts now set. There was an uproar from motorists, and compliance was slack because there simply wasn't any need to stop. Here again, the proof is in the pudding: NO ACCIDENTS = SAFE DRIVING. Let's just say if it's workin' don't fix it.

Adding insult to injury, the people who constructed the roundabouts evidenced fundamental incompetence by initially making one of the roundabouts too large to accomodate - of all things - emergency vehicles. What a hoot. Then there was a problem gettin' one of 'em level. Hit the ol' taxpayer for extensive corrections to boobytraps that never should have been built in the first place. Apparently, part of the scheme is to pad county budgets in anticipation of future funding. Whatever. The concern obviously isn't for anyone's safety, and it's a shame the Quail Hollow Community Association didn't actively oppose these wasteful projects from the get go.

Let's face it. So-called "traffic safety" is no more than a means of collecting revenue. Nationwide, its a multi-billion dollar business butressed by corrupt lawmakers, equally corrupt "traffic courts," and glorified revenue agents posing as law enforcement personnel. Facts reveal that all the hand wringin' hysterics over "speeding" are nothing more than a well rehearsed con job worthy of an academy award. Bottom line? City Hall is interested in your money - not your safety.

Update 2/28/2016 - There's now been a second accident involving the same roundabout. Vehicle lost control and crashed into shrubbery on the right-of-way on the other side of the road. Made a real mess, but the County of Lexington never got around to cleaning things up. Probably too busy installing more roundabouts - an ENORMOUS one has been built at the intersection of Mineral Springs Rd. and the I-20 frontage road - instead of maintaining roads

Update 4/8/2016 - Speaking of wasted tax dollars... Unnecessary traffic signs are popping up all over the place. In my neighborhood, there are even new signs to inform motorists that there's a sign up ahead. Diverting tax dollars to roundabouts and other such nonsense reeks of yet another special-interest-type racket going on in the SC legislature.

Update 8/18/2016 - Here's a GREAT article re the confusion and stress (not to mention the danger) that motorists encounter at roundabouts.

Update 8/31/2016 - Since there's an obvious need for distractions at my neighborhood's roundabouts, the Quail Hollow Community Association is using the roundabouts as a kind of bulletin board. The gang's latest "notice" - who woulda guessed? - is a ploy to collect dues.