Photo by Walter Rhein
There are few things more dangerous than an automobile going the wrong way down a one-way street. Although most drivers quickly recognize their error, all it takes is one distracted individual to create a terrible tragedy.
Anyone can make a mistake, particularly tourists and other people who are unfamiliar with an area. Normally, when you make an incorrect turn onto a one-way street, you are confronted with distinctive, attention-getting red signs emblazoned with “wrong way” in large white letters.
These signs are designed to be immediately recognizable and they alert drivers to the fact that they must pull over and stop. In fact, wrong way signs are designed to resemble stop signs except that they are rectangular instead of octagonal.
Residents of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin have expressed concern that a one-way street that bisects the city has insufficient signage to guarantee safety.
The road in question is about sixth tenths of a mile. It’s called Rushman Drive at its intersection with South Bridge Street, and turns into North High Street prior to its intersection with East Elm Street. Residents are concerned over the lack of wrong way signs that indicate this is a one-way street.
Every day I sit beside North High Street to have my lunch, and almost every day there is at least one and sometimes two vehicles that end up driving the wrong way. It’s especially dangerous because the road begins to curve right around East Columbus Street. It’s only a matter of time before somebody gets killed—Witness requested to remain anonymous
The intersection of N. High Street and E. Elm Street is marked by three, highly-visible do not enter signs. But there are no wrong way signs anywhere on the stretch of road. Roads that intersect with the one-way street include E. Cedar Street, N. Prairie Street, E. Spruce Street, E. Birch Street, E. Willow Street, E. Columbia Street, E. Grand Avenue, W. Central Street, and E. Spring Street. Any one of those intersections represents a point where a confused driver could inadvertently make a wrong turn onto the one-way street.
If a street does not have proper signage, it can be difficult for a driver to recognize s/he is going the wrong way. They might be perplexed by the fact that all the signs are facing the other direction, but they might not immediately understand their mistake. In fact, the backward facing signs might even serve as the kind of distraction that can contribute to an accident.
A one-way street, particularly one that runs through a residential area, needs frequent wrong way signs to alert inattentive drivers that might have committed an error.
There’s no signage on North High Street. It’s common to see drivers going the wrong way for three or four blocks. When you get a driver that’s disregarding the speed limit, you have a recipe for disaster—Witness requested to remain anonymous
Residents are hopeful that the city of Chippewa Falls will become aware of this problem and install wrong way signs in the near future.