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Beware the three-horned dodo

Recently, I had a close call with serious injury because of a thoughtless driver. These two ancient references immediately came to mind. I will amend them both at the end of my tale.

First: Euclid, the great ancient geometer, famously said to a king having difficulty with his attempt to learn geometry, “There is no royal road to learning geometry.” 

Second: The Roman Empire was celebrated for its network of roads that linked all to Rome, i.e., “All roads lead to Rome.”

It was 11 a.m. on a Monday. Idling his black pickup truck in the Cornwall General Store parking lot, the young man was surveying the intersection getting ready to enter. Just then, his jaw dropped as he paused and witnessed an all-too-common vehicular occurrence at the Cornwall Bridge town center green curved traffic intersections (3) of Routes 7 and 4 (or as I now refer to them, the three-horned dodo).

At the time, I was driving north (under the 35 mph speed limit) up Route 7, 200 yards south of the Cornwall General Store. Up ahead, I saw a sleek, black SUV as it came to a stop at the stop sign of the Route 7 spur that comes off of Route 4, facing south, at the same intersection that I was going to be approaching. The driver easily had ample time to proceed into the intersection and move along before I got at all close. There was no other traffic. However, the driver remained at the stop sign. I knew that I had the complete right of way through the intersection as I was continuing north on Route 7. But, as I approached the intersection, instinct made me take my foot off the gas, just in case (I have lived in Cornwall Bridge for over 20 years).

Sure enough, the driver of the sleek black SUV all of a sudden just accelerated into the intersection crossing into my traffic lane and heading directly into the immediate path of my car. I slammed on my brakes and just barely avoided a direct head-on collision. The driver of the sleek, black SUV proceeded along, just missing my car, and never slowed down. After coming to such an abrupt halt, out of habit, I quickly glanced at all of my mirrors to make sure no other vehicles were going to be involved. It was then, glancing over my passenger side mirror, that I saw the idling black pickup truck in the Cornwall General Store parking lot and the young man’s jaw drop. He was stunned.

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As I mentioned earlier, this is an all-too-common vehicular occurrence at the Cornwall Bridge town center Green — the three-horned dodo. I’ve seen and also been a part of it many times. Unfortunately, there have been many accidents at the dodo. 

There are two very human problems that go into making the dodo a hazard. Each of the three intersections has a stop sign for traffic intending to join the flow of traffic. But some drivers are flummoxed by the intersecting curves and the acute angles (much less than 90 degrees) that make up the intersections: the horns of the dodo. They seem to believe that because there is no definitive right angle (90 degrees) at the intersection of their stop sign, they can just willy-nilly decide to flow into the curve of traffic any old time of their choosing, despite the concrete visual evidence of oncoming traffic! They seem to adopt the attitude of the king trying to learn geometry from Euclid, that there must be a “royal road” that will usher them safely through the difficult new rules of the unfamiliar geometry. 

This woeful lack of humility in the face of real and direct evidence to the contrary (oncoming cars) is breathtaking (or jaw-dropping) to behold. The other contributing factor to the incipient “danger at the dodo” emerges from something so basic and simple that it begs the question of who is competent to be issued a driver’s license. If you approach an intersection, all roads lead not to Rome: all roads lead to You!

Please slow down. 

 

Michael Moschen lives in Cornwall Bridge.