U.S. 14 - Danger Zone
Topics: United States Numbered Highways
July 29, 2008
Did you read last Friday's article about the 3-car crash on U.S. 14 near MCC? It occurred just after 3:30PM between Lucas Road and North Ridgefield Road, when an 18-year-old from Harvard heading east toward Crystal Lake crossed the centerline and hit a westbound car, also driven by an 18-year-old, a man from Woodstock. The crash closed down U.S. 14. Just great on a Friday afternoon; right?
I can't tell you how many times I have been met on U.S. 14 between Woodstock and Crystal Lake by drivers who wander across the centerline. The worst one recently was a blonde woman driver on a cell phone. She was more interested in her phone conversation than she was in staying in her lane. I didn't have to dive onto the shoulder but, if the white shoulder lane line had been freshly painted, I would have had white paint on my tires!
Thirty-five years ago I heard a tip from a fellow reserve sheriff's deputy who worked for Bell Telephone in Denver. In his training he learned to watch the left front tire of the vehicle coming toward you. If that tire is creeping toward the centerline, it's time to take cover.
Do whatever you have to do - flash your headlights, horn your horn, drive onto the shoulder.
A third car was involved last Friday. The BMW driver swerved to avoid the two vehicles that had just hit. In doing so, he left the roadway, and the BMW turned on its side. Fortunately, the driver, his wife and his two children were securely fastened by safety belts and the infant's child safety seat.
By the way, police estimate that as many as 70% of child safety seats are improperly installed. Next time you read about a safety check, go by and ask an officer to inspect whether you have installed the child safety seat in your car correctly.
The Harvard driver was cited for improper lane usage. Big deal. What was he doing, when he crossed the centerline? Was on his cellphone? Text-messaging someone? Switching CDs? Eating his lunch? A Careless Driving ticket would have been a good call, backed up by the improper lane usage ticket.
When (not "if") you see careless or reckless driving on U.S. 14, call the police. There are three jurisdictions between Woodstock and Crystal Lake.
Woodstock to Lily Lake Road, call Woodstock PD: 815-338-2131
Lily Lake Road to N. Ridgefield Rd., call the sheriff's office: 815-338-2144
N. Ridgefield Road into Crystal Lake, call Crystal Lake PD: 815-459-2020 Ext. 1
Get the license plate number and be able to describe the car and driver. "TELL" the dispatcher you want the car stopped and that you'll witness in court. And then do it.
© 2008 GUS PHILPOTT
July 30, 2008 addition:
I had hoped to convey that drivers could get child safety seats checked at an announced "event", not by flagging down the nearest police officer. Watch for announcements of these safety check-points, often on week-ends at shopping centers.
Woodstock Fire & Rescue District has trained Safety Seat Technicians, and you can talk with one or make an appointment for an inspection by calling 815-338-2621. Ask for the technician; leave a message, if he is out or off-duty that day.
A local event is being planned for September, at which drivers can have safety seats inspected. Details will be announced in the near future.
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