Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Funeral processions, right of way, and respect

So today's Post has a front page story on funeral processions ("Respect for the dead wanes when funeral processions hit insane Washington traffic") not being respected on the road (while yesterday a story that Fox News told David Petraeus if he would run for president that Roger Ailes would run his campaign and Rupert Murdoch would fund it ran on the front page too, the front page of the Style section).

Funeral procession flag designs available from Embalmers Supply Company.

Actually, I've thought about this issue as long as I've lived in DC, for 25+ years.  And the original problem has only been strengthened by changes in car engineering.

First, in this region, cars in a funeral procession aren't adequately denoted, other than having their headlights on, and maybe a sign on the side windows of the car--in a position that is completely unviewable to other traffic.

In Michigan, where I am from, cars had flags on their radio aerials, the flags said "funeral", were orange and black with a cross, and made it very clear that the car was part of a funeral procession.

So compared to that, I always figured out the problem here was because of inadequate "flagging."  I have never seen the use of such flags on cars in funeral processions ever, in the 25+ years that I've lived here.

It's pretty obvious what the problem is.

Funeral processions, at least in this region, aren't flagged, so people aren't "warned" or notified that the cars are in a procession.  So of course people break the line, don't respect it, etc., because the procession isn't adequately identified.

Second, now that cars don't have radio aerials, they are harder to flag.  But it's not that hard.  First thing to do is to require that funeral processions be flagged.

Third, add a couple questions to drivers tests about the subject to drivers license testing, and refresher "education" tests for drivers license renewal processes, which mostly don't ask refresher questions (especially with regard to traffic safety for pedestrians and bicyclists), and should.

It happens that Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration has created a mobile application for drivers license test preparation.  See "Maryland MVA Releases Android App To Test Drivers" from CBS Baltimore.

I'd recommend creating a similar application for traffic safety refresher courses, and that "taking it" should be required as part of the drivers license renewal process.

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