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Letter: On Virginia roadways, mind the gap

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On roadways, mind the gap

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a growing trend of motorists leaving at least a car-length gap between them and the vehicle in front while stopped at signals and turn lanes. Early on, many of those drivers were preoccupied with their cell phones and seemingly oblivious to the problems they were causing drivers backing up behind them. Today, it appears that many drivers just leave these excessive spaces by choice or ignorance.

VDOT traffic engineers design stacking lanes based on a number of factors including car lengths. They do not calculate additional unused car lengths taken by these overly cautious and/or discourteous drivers. The net result is the stacking in a turn lane will not hold the number of vehicles the lane was designed for causing a back-up into through lanes ... a dangerous situation.

I witnessed this again just this morning on Patterson Avenue, east bound, at its intersection with Starling Drive. Several motorists in the turn lane to Starling had left more than a car length space in front of them and had no idea that drivers behind them had backed up into the through lanes and were jockeying for position, subject to being rammed from behind. Speed limit there is 45 mph.

I have always understood that cars at a stop sign, turn lane or signal should pull up to the point that they can just see the license plate or rear wheels of the vehicle in front. I tried to research DMV regs on this matter and found under “Keeping Your Distance/Cars at Intersections” the page says “Sorry, this page is currently unavailable." Wonderful!

I hope that DMV, VDOT and local law enforcement will address the matter in a public way.

This behavior has to stop. Someone is going to get killed.

Dave Smith.

Henrico County.