Friday, February 20, 2009

Where Is Your Horn Button?

The D/FW traffic reputation has been notoriously bad, and probably for good reasons. There is one intersection in Grapevine Texas that I go through at least once a day Monday through Friday and sometimes on Saturday. It is the first intersection I go through on my way home from work. It is the intersection at Grapevine Main Street and State Highway 114 on the north side of SH114. Even when driving a cage through this intersection I have had too many close encounters and near misses to count.

Traveling west bound on the SH114 access road you come the intersection at Grapevine Main Street. There are three lanes to choose from. The far right lane is for right turn only onto Main Street headed north. The far left lane is to turn left on Main Street headed south or continue straight west bound on the SH114 access road. The center lane is to continue straight west bound on the SH114 access road.

Map Link

Street View
The problems start when vehicles in the center lane attempt to turn left onto Main Street headed south. They turn left in front of the vehicles that have opted to go straight through the light. That is the most common traffic mistake that you see at this intersection. However, I have also experienced people in the far right turn only lane going straight causing three vehicles to attempt to fit into the two lanes available on the other side of the stoplight. There is no telling how many traffic accidents have happened at this intersection. I have almost been hit three to four times in various vehicles, all when going straight from the far left lane.

There are several reasons that I feel that this happens. First is that people do not pay attention to the traffic signs. Unless a larger vehicle blocks your view, you can clearly see the sign on the left showing that the far left lane can turn left or go straight. I you scroll closer to the stoplight you can see it is also clearly marked with a large sign that the center lane is to go straight only, the far right is to go right only. On top of that, the arrows, although worn, are also painted on the road itself indicating which lanes can go which direction. I feel they need to add a solid line across the intersection for the drivers in the center lane to follow in an attempt to keep them from turning left. When will people learn that if you are in the wrong lane there is always another intersection ahead you can turn around at?

The second issue is that the coming from the opposite direction at the stoplight on the other side of the bridge, it is different. Going the other direction the far left lane is left turn only. The center lane can turn left or go straight. The far right lane is still right turn only. I feel that making it different on each side of the bridge makes it confusing for the sheep, I mean, drivers.

So, there I was nine months later since making my Fiamm Freeway Blaster Low Note horn upgrade to my V-Star 1100. I had just gotten off work and I was setting at the stoplight at SH114 East bound at the Grapevine Main Street intersection. I was in the far left lane; a few vehicles back, waiting for the light to turn green. I was going to go straight through the light and hop on State Highway 121 Southbound for home.

The light turned green and I twisted the throttle on Mistress and started to go. As soon as I started to enter the intersection, a large dark pickup truck of unknown make, in the center lane besides and ahead of me, turned left cutting me off. I slammed on both brakes at the same time almost coming to a stop. When I could see the truck was going to pass by with out me becoming a fender molding, my left thumb went for the horn button. My thumb, instead of hitting the horn button hit the headlamp high beam switch instead. By now the encroaching truck was long gone. I twisted the throttle, hoped on S.H.121 and was gone.

The good news was, I was able to slow down quickly and gracefully and had avoided an accident. Hitting the high beam switch instead of the horn was embarrassing. I’m writing this to remind all the motorcycle riders out there to be familiar with all the controls on their bike of choice. I knew where the horn button was. I panicked and hit the wrong one. Practice, practice, practice, until you can get them all with your eyes closed. Where is your horn button?

Ride on,

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