OPINION: This intersection should get your full attention

What’s one of the most dangerous intersections in Ripley? You know the type: Where one driver can’t see another one coming until they’re a split-second away from turning driving into a contact sport. For most folks, debate about hazardous intersections is theoretical, good “grounds” for coffee shop conversation, if you’ll pardon the pun. But it’s a lot more than theoretical to me. I ride a motorcycle to and from work most days of the week, most months of the year. That means I take risky intersections a whole lot more seriously than most folks. A low-speed collision between two cars at an intersection may lead to some fussin’ and cussin’, with steam rising from necks as well as radiators. Those get-togethers generally don’t hurt anyone. The same low-speed crash involving a motorcycle can leave the cyclist down and bloody in the street, minutes away from finding out just how good the local ambulance service and hospital facilities really are. Under the right circumstances, that same low-speed crash can make the cyclist the center of attraction at the local funeral home. As a result, whether I’m riding in something or on it, I try to stay aware of what’s going on around me at all times, regardless of whether I’m approaching an intersection or all alone out on the open road. After all, an ounce of “staying out of,” is worth a pound of “getting’ out of.” One local intersection makes me especially nervous. That’s where Commerce Street and West Jefferson Street intersect on the town square. The view from Commerce west onto West Jefferson is often blocked by vehicles parked in front of businesses on Jefferson near the intersection. To increase the problem, at some times of the year – like right now, for instance – a large flowering bush at the intersection reduces the view of each road from the other. That means a vehicle on one of those roads oftentimes can’t see a vehicle coming into the intersection from the other road until they’re almost on top of each other. If there was ever an intersection where everyone ought to slow way down, forget about texting or tweeting or instant messaging or cell phone conversations, turn the radio down or stop talking with a passenger, and really pay attention to their driving, that intersection is it. I don’t know if there have been a large number of fenderbenders or injury-producing crashes at that intersection. If there have been, it’s a good reason to proceed with caution. If there haven’t, maintaining that record is a good reason to proceed with caution. Sometimes all roads really do lead to Rome. Whether you’re in a vehicle or on one, let’s have our get-togethers at the coffee shop, not on the highway.

Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel