Beware of roadside distractions

I had a horrifying thought this morning as I was driving north along a major west Amarillo thoroughfare en route to work: My effort to read the other side of a marquee as I was traveling along the street could have resulted in a tragic accident.

It was early this morning. I noticed the sign, then realized that the rest of the message was on the other side of the marquee. I turned my head to read the “punchline” on the other side. I was distracted for, oh, about three seconds. I was traveling about 35 or 40 mph, which means I traveled quite distance in a short period of time.

Given that traffic was very light at 6:30 a.m., I had no particular worry at that moment of hitting a car in front of me.

But what about the morning rush hour, when the street is clogged with northbound traffic? Or how about the evening rush hour, when the southbound lanes are full of vehicles? What if someone cranes his or her neck to read the sign, as I did this morning? You’ve taken your eyes off the street, and the traffic, for a moment. Then a critter — or, heaven forbid, a child — darts out into the street. The driver in front of you slams on the brakes. You hit the car and, thus, you are liable for the wreck.

I enjoy reading clever signs as much as the next guy. I also fear auto accidents.

Therefore, I plan to take more care to keep my attention focused on the road.

And business owners perhaps ought to rethink the wisdom of putting two-sided marquee messages out there to tempt motorists into taking their eyes off the street in front of them.