Originally created 03/27/06

No reading between these lines, please



It's a good thing Edmund Hillary didn't have to drive to work each day while he was conquering Everest. He never would have reached the top.

Commuting to and from work makes me feel I'm a risk-taker of the same caliber as a mountain climber, or an alligator wrestler, or, more likely, the guys defending the Alamo. My odds of ultimate survival seem in line with theirs, too.

This week I feel a little safer, though, a little more confident. When I leave the house in the morning, I now believe I might actually live to see it again. All it took to restore my optimism was a dab of paint.

Last week, you see, the Georgia Department of Transportation repainted the white lines separating two lanes of traffic where an Interstate 20 exit turns onto River Watch Parkway.

The lines had faded away a long time ago, so when traffic turned left at the light onto River Watch, vehicles in both lanes suddenly took on the maneuvers of bumper cars at a carnival, drifting into each other's lane with abandon. They were driving blind.

This demolition derby was especially hazardous for drivers in the right lane, because motorists to their left would take the turn much wider than the state had intended, veering into the right lane on the 90-degree turn.

I lost count of the number of times when, minding my own business in the right lane, I was nearly flattened by those wide-turning left-lane drivers. I would have to swerve right and hit the horn to signal my presence.

One time, I recall, the other driver nearly dropped her cell phone and can of hair spray after hearing my brakes as I skidded out of her way. I'm sure she was as surprised as I was.

It was not much better to be in the left lane, because oblivious right-lane drivers would cut the corner short, giving the other drivers nowhere to go but up on the curb.

I soon learned that after making the turn in the left ("fast") lane, I was expected to accelerate to NASCAR speeds immediately, even though the posted limit is only 45 mph, or else 35 (it's difficult to tell).

All that has changed, though. The stripes have been repainted to show us where to drive. Because I had called the area DOT office last summer to report the missing lane lines, I called again last week to offer my thanks for restoring them.

Although the office had sent my complaint to Atlanta for adding to the big to-do list, what actually got the lines repainted this spring was not my fearful whimpering about not wanting to die in traffic, but a little thing called the Masters Tournament.

Corbett Reynolds, the assistant area engineer for the DOT, said state crews have been out in force completing maintenance projects in preparation for the golf tournament.

There will be a lot of visitors in town, many who won't know their way around, Mr. Reynolds said, and so the DOT has replaced traffic signs, refreshed crosswalks on Washington Road and painted lane lines on a little intersection that is dear to my heart and to my next of kin.

Will those fresh, white lines help save my life, and yours? I wonder, because death shadows me regularly at several other intersections that have all their paint intact. A concrete wall might succeed where those stripes fail.

All those safety measures, of course, would be unnecessary if drivers would put down their phones, coffee, sausage biscuits, mascara, music, novels - yes, reading while driving! - and pay attention to the road.

I'm not holding out for a sudden resurgence in defensive driving, though. Today, I'm new-paint giddy. I have lane lines to help me survive my daily drive.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.