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Steve Murillo: Be careful at intersections

  • Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at 5:08 p.m.

When my son was young, he would count down the lights while waiting at an intersection, watching the cross-traffic lights go from green to yellow to red. Then he’d say, “Go.”

I recall being at the corner of Harry and Greenwich waiting for our light to turn green. Thomas counted down the lights looking to his right, while I was studying the driver of a semitruck on my left. I could tell he was making no attempt to slow down. My son said “go” after the delayed signal, and still the truck was not slowing down. A few seconds after his light had turned red, he blazed through the intersection. Had I proceeded into the intersection when our light turned green, we would have been killed.

Since then, there have been two other incidents in which I have had to slam on my brakes to avoid being hit by drivers running red lights in the cross traffic. Both times the cars also slammed on their brakes in the nick of time, and we both sat parked in the middle of the intersection at a diagonal next to each other, inches away from a collision.

Last week I was nearly killed at Central and St. Francis. A white car not only ran the red light but made no attempt to slow down, swerve to miss me or change lanes. It barreled through the intersection oblivious to what had just happened (or maybe intentionally?). The next day I saw that a white car had T-boned another car at Market and First; I wondered if it was the same white car.

I discussed this with my son last Thursday, recalling his childhood countdown. A couple days later, he called me to say that his girlfriend’s parents were in an accident. Her mother was in intensive care; her father did not make it. They were killed by a driver running a red light and T-boning them in an intersection.

I see two to six people every day running red lights, long after their light has turned red. They seem to speed up rather than proceeding slowly with caution as the lights turn from green to yellow.

My solution is that we fine drivers $1,000 for running a red light. It certainly verges on reckless endangerment.

I believe it is because we are all in too much of a hurry. I don’t believe that it is simply because the culprits are texting or drinking or talking on their cellphones. We all must pay close attention when entering an intersection these days, even when we have a green light.

Steve Murillo lives in Wichita.

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