Slow down and keep your eyes on the road

12 years ago

To the editor:
I am writing to express great concern regarding an issue that plagues me on a weekly basis.  Once again, I’m sitting outside the Houlton Lodge of Elks, waiting for my daughters’ dance classes to finish up. As I watch the comings and goings of traffic and pedestrians, my stomach churns.  Will this be the night I witness someone run down by a hurried or careless driver?  I pray not.
    I feel our community is very blessed by the existence of the Houlton School of Dance.  Classes are held each Monday and Wednesday afternoon/evening at the Houlton Lodge of Elks.  Though the facility serves the purpose, parking is less than adequate, to say the least; which brings me to my concern. It is not uncommon for parents to stop in front of the building to drop off their children.  To me, this is not a problem.  I’d much rather have my neighbor (and aren’t we all supposed to be “neighbors?”) drop children at the foot of the building, even if it means I must wait … gasp!  Considering the alternative for them is often a long walk in freezing temperatures, it seems the least I can do.
Drivers have gotten so accustomed to this practice that they fail to remember there is also a crosswalk there.  It is assumed that, if a vehicle is stopped, students are being dropped off, and it has become common for drivers to whiz around them and continue on their merry way.  Unfortunately, on several occasions, I have witnessed vehicles stop, not with students, but to allow pedestrians to cross in the crosswalk, as another vehicle drives around them, barely missing a pedestrian.
Just last week we were involved in this gut-twisting scenario.  We stopped for an older gentleman, and an impatient driver, sitting at the adjacent stop sign, must have assumed we were dropping off children, and around us she went.  What was the big rush, you wonder?  She needed to get to the ATM machine a block away. Unfortunately, my husband would not stop and allow me to point out her risky choice … hence this letter.
Drivers, I urge you to use extreme caution when traveling Main Street, especially Monday and Wednesday afternoons/ evenings. Offer common courtesy to others.  Please remember the existence and purpose of crosswalks.  Drive carefully.  And if you should wait, wait … another’s life and your freedom is worth inexpressibly more than a cup of coffee, punctual arrival, or an ATM transaction.
Pedestrians, use those crosswalks, but do not assume those lines promise you safety.
And parents, teach your children caution and road safety.  We cannot assume tragedy will not strike us, even if we do live in Aroostook County, Maine.

Michelle Lee
Smyrna Mills