Don't stop or you'll nearly miss the thrills

November 9, 2013 

We may have to nickname downtown Columbus "Near-Mississippi" because of all the near-misses drivers cause.

I saw five near-misses Nov. 1-3, most at cross streets where one driver cruised right out in front of another. In a couple of cases the other driver was my spouse, who unlike me does not anticipate other motorists' entirely ignoring a stop sign or red light.

Down on Second Avenue's southern end, she was driving north when an elderly couple coming east on a side street slowed down, appearing prepared to stop at their stop sign, or at least see a car coming.

Instead they just kept going, right out in front of us, as if they wanted to time the T-bone collision just right -- except I don't think they ever noticed my wife's car at all.

Two days later she was driving south on Second Avenue when a guy coming north turned west on 13th Street in front of us, so we almost hit him, too.

Between those close calls came another on Nov. 2, when most heavy drinkers should be either at a football game or horse race and not trying to drive and talk on a cell phone at the same time.

I'm coming east across the 13th Street bridge and trying to turn north on Broadway, and get this: A guy coming the other way, who is in the left westbound lane and not in the turn lane, decides to turn south on Broadway, so he pulls out into the middle of the intersection and blocks it.

He's driving with one hand because his other's holding a phone to his ear.

In effect he shuts down three lanes of traffic because he's blocking two lanes and keeping me from turning, so I'm blocking another lane.

Pretty much everyone else has to stop so Mr. Motorcade can pass without hanging up the phone, as hanging up traffic apparently is preferable.

The next day I saw two more motorists nearly collide at Second Avenue and Eighth Street, where the northbound driver did, in fact, stop at the avenue's stop sign. So that was an improvement. (Woo hoo!)

But then he pulled out in front of a car speeding east on Eighth, precipitating the blaring of car horns and squealing of tires. But not the crunch of metal or shattering of glass.

So we may start calling this "Near-Mississippi," with a slogan like "Don't MISS the excitement!" or "What has four eyes and can't see a stop sign? A couple driving through Near-Mississippi."

"We stop for no one" would work, too.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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