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Last Monday afternoon I was driving from Portland, Oregon, to Bend, Oregon, along highway 22 and went through this Y intersection with Highway 128 at 55 miles per hour. A car passed across my path with less than a half second clearance … WOW … within the second another car passed over my path behind me. That one was really close. If, in a startle, I had even touched my brakes as the first car passed in front of me the second one would have hit me at 110 mph.

Absolutely nothing happened and we all went our merry way. Except for me, except for me. I wondered how something so extremely dangerous could have happened. Had I missed a STOP sign, or had those drivers missed a STOP sign? I went to GOOGLE EARTH to check out that intersection. There are absolutely no controls on that intersection and only a small information sign tagged onto the big decision-point city signs. Imagine if you can driving along this highway with heavy traffic in both directions on a beautiful day like the one where these Google Earth photos were taken. That’s how it was for me, but add in a little rain, and perhaps night, and perhaps any other complicating factor.

Be aware, that intersection is a monster waiting to kill you!

We are entering the intersection from the top left highway. Note the number of vehicles going in opposite directions at highway speeds.

We are on Highway 22 headed east toward Bend, Oregon
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Highway 20 merges at highway speed from our right side.
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Observe the lane with an approaching car.
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He is in the lane which crosses over our forward path.
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Observe the tree shadows and his position … he’s moving.
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Our Google Earth moves up the highway.
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It moves some more and we see that Bend is ahead of us.
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From that point, I turn the camera around and we see that same car apparently waiting for the car behind the motorcycle to pass.
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We move forward and he waits.
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We can see in the distance that he turns across the lane.
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I enlarge the view so you can see he is going in front of another car.
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A few seconds earlier we see him planing his crossing … in front or behind the motorcycle or the oncoming car?
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A second earlier he might have made it okay. But that’s us, not him, and we are going the other way.
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Looking across as we passed we might note the white cross commemorating someone who got killed here not making the right decision or maybe just sitting there waiting for someone else to make a decision.
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The only warning that there was any difficulty going over to Eugene was the white information sign saying “Left turn yield to oncoming traffic” and the barely visible white cross … but this isn’t the time to be thinking about other people getting killed. There is no time for thinking; there must be good action and good action right now!
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That was the intersection I came through last Monday without knowing that the oncoming drivers were making these split-second decisions about my living another second or our both dying in their attempt to cross the highway.

This intersection has heavy traffic on nice days and desperately needs an overpass. It there isn’t any money for that perhaps a STOP sign would help.

Perhaps I should complain to someone about this problem.

 

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