To the editor:
This is an open letter to all who drive in and out of the Topsham Fair Mall onto Route 196.
Due to the multiple lanes exiting the mall and the volume of traffic on Route 196, highway authorities decided that right turns exiting the mall on a red light would be prohibited.
Initially, two small signs were hung next to the traffic lights across the street indicating no right turn on red.
As a frequent traveler through this intersection, I see that most drivers did not or could not see the signs due to their size and location.
Fearing a serious accident, I became increasingly frustrated with this blatant disregard of the law, watching car after car make the right turn on red.
With the assistance of a previous highway commissioner, a much larger sign was installed in a much better position for viewing. Apparently, three signs were not enough either, as motorists continued to make the right turn on red.
My next suggestion to the highway department was placing a sign on the curbing next to the right lane as you make the stop at the intersection. Certainly, a large sign practically touching your car would get drivers’ attention.
Not so much.
Realizing most drivers are looking to their left at intersections, my next suggestion was to place a sign on the curbing as you approach the intersection. A large sign staring you in the face has to do the trick.
In my line of work — law enforcement — I have the ability to get people’s attention when driving and have taken advantage of this opportunity several times when observing someone making a right turn on red here.
During the subsequent interaction, I routinely ask the driver if he or she saw any of the five signs indicating no right turn on red. Inevitably, the response is they did not.
Five signs of various sizes and in various locations apparently remain invisible.
It just makes me want to sing: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind. Do this, don’t do that. Can’t you read the sign.”