April 07, 2020

‘Accident ahead’ sign

The account of three highway crashes in Palmyra in the Oct. 13 edition of the Bangor Daily News attributed the cause to heavy rain and excessive speed for the conditions. No mention was made of another factor which probably contributed to the third, secondary collision: an “accident ahead” sign, presumably placed by some well-intentioned but misguided emergency responders, was squarely in the center of the passing lane, accompanied only by a few traffic cones, when I traversed the site after the second crash had occurred.

No other indication of the primary accident was in evidence except at the scene itself, which was far beyond the misplaced sign and not visible to an approaching motorist. A plethora of well-marked, strobe-equipped police and other emergency vehicles was clustered there, but apparently no one had the presence of mind to position one of these vehicles on the shoulder in advance of the unlit sign; doing so would likely have prevented the final mishap.

It is understandable, considering the poor visibility which existed, that responders chose not to place themselves at risk by attempting to direct traffic manually. There are, however, other generally accepted procedures, promulgated by the Federal Highway Administration, which are intended for an incident site such as this.

One must question why they were not used.

John H. Stetson


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