Editorial: A pound of prevention

On Friday the 13th, a little after 6 p.m., in the midst of the homeward-bound, market-bound, party-bound crush of traffic that routinely courses up and down Fifth Street West, especially at the end of a workweek, three vehicles entered the zone of confusion that occupies a virtual rectangle at the edge of the Safeway parking lot.

An 18-year-old Vallejo woman, southbound on Fifth, was waiting to make a left turn into the Supermarket entrance. The driver of a northbound car, stalled in traffic, graciously motioned for the southbound car to turn in front. The 18-year-old’s gray sedan pulled across the temporarily blocked line of traffic to reach the relative safety of the Safeway lot, when a northbound motorcyclist, unaware of the generous gesture executed ahead, pulled around the waiting northbound car and slammed into the side of the turning sedan.

The motorcyclist suffered moderate injuries, and was reported at fault, but the strange voodoo that seems to alter accurate perception, jam good judgment and otherwise interfere with the safe interaction of vehicular and pedestrian traffic at that particular confluence of people and cars was apparently at work again.

In the past six years, two people have died and at least three more have been injured in what appears to be an otherworldly accident zone. Following the last fatality, members of the City Council voiced strong opinions about studying the problem and finding solutions. The impetus for that effort seems to have been lost, however, as time passes swiftly by. We suspect it will return the next time someone is seriously injured – or killed – as we believe will inevitably happen.

It seems at times at least moderately miraculous that more accidents have not happened there. Also miraculous is the absence of more motorized mayhem at the equally complex intersection where Sonoma Highway Crosses Verano Avenue at the edge of Maxwell Farms Regional Park. Hazardous transit occurs there in several directions. Eastbound vehicles on Verano trying to cross Sonoma Highway to make a left-turn toward the Springs, sometimes encounter westbound cars coming straight at them because they can’t see where the oncoming traffic lanes are.

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