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Courteous drivers cause dangerous situations

August 11, 2012
By DAVE WERNER ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

A two-car crash in June on W. Main St. in the village of Malone was initiated by a courteous driver with good intentions, but, unfortunately, resulted in a car on its side and an injured driver of the vehicle that was doing nothing wrong. The serious collision began when a vehicle, waiting to exit from the former Gallagher's Restaurant parking lot, was waved into W. Main St. by a westbound driver in the right lane. Unfortunately, however, the supposedly courteous driver failed to realize that there was a vehicle also traveling westbound in the left lane.

Even though the "courteous" driver was trying to be helpful, no one should enter the main road without knowing that it was safe to do so. Obviously it was not safe! As a result, the driver entering W. Main St. hit the innocent car that was in the left lane, causing that car to flip on its side and injuring its driver, as shown in the picture of the resulting crash courtesy of Arianna MacNeill and the Malone Telegram. This is a clear violation of "failure to yield the right of way", article 1143 of Vehicle and Traffic Law. Of interest, this is not the first time a crash similar to this one took place at this same location.

Although most motorists want to be helpful to our fellow drivers, sometimes it is best not to do so. When you motion to another driver to proceed, you take on additional responsibility unnecessarily. In the aforementioned case, the motorist that was trying to be helpful actually placed several other drivers and passengers in harm's way. It would have been much better to drive according to the rules of the road and let a driver that is waiting to enter traffic do so at the proper time as dictated by traffic.

In the accompanying picture showing W. Main St., you can see a vehicle about to enter the road from the right and turn left toward downtown Malone. To safely make this manoeuver, the driver would have to wait for both westbound lanes to be clear plus the eastbound lane. Westbound drivers should not try to let the waiting vehicle enter traffic unless they know for certain that it is safe to do so. Furthermore, the motorist about to enter should never do so because someone waved him on unless he is also certain that it is completely safe to do so.

Some other examples of where it's best not to indicate to someone to proceed ahead of you when V & T law requires them to yield the right-of-way to you include;

1. Waving someone to pass your vehicle where the sight lines are not adequate for a safe pass.

2. Waving a pedestrian across a street in the middle of a block, where a pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles (the pedestrian may get hit by another vehicle that is not expecting anyone to cross at that point).

3. Indicating to a pedestrian to cross the intersection against a red traffic signal.

4. Waving a motorist opposite you, signaling a left turn at a red light, to proceed ahead of you.

Courtesy is important when driving and there is a place for it, but there are many places where it can create a very dangerous situation, such as in the Malone incident previously described. In most cases, it is best to just drive according to the vehicle and traffic laws in New York state and to not try to assist someone only to put them or others in a more dangerous situation from another driver that doesn't expect your actions.



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