Hinsdaleans, we need to stop
Last updated 3/22/2023 at 4:53pm | View PDF
I closely eyeballed the stop sign at the intersection of Fourth and Lincoln streets. It appeared to be in good working order. "STOP" was spelled correctly, the red was the appropriate hue and all eight sides were visible. No branches, bushes, parked vehicles or other man-made shrouds blocked its view. I was perplexed. If the sign was in good working order, why were so many drivers not fully stopping? Or ignoring it altogether?
I thought about calling the manufacturer to ask if there was a secret switch that activated its powers. I also pondered calling the Hinsdale Police Department, but feared they'd think I was a loon.
So after much contemplation, I've concluded that some Hinsdaleans - and some simply passing through our burgh - consider stop signs optional. Yup, that was it. If you've driven around town at peak school hours in the morning or afternoon, you know exactly what I mean.
Obeying a stop sign here isn't a law, it's a polite suggestion. Kind of like, "Would you like some cracked pepper with your salad?" or "You may want to double cup your venti coffee - it's quite hot."
There are three kinds of Hinsdale drivers who cause stop sign havoc.
1. I'm on a roll
These drivers slow down and roll through the sign to get a good look at oncoming traffic, often leaving their front end hanging out in harm's way. They're annoying, but at least they stop.
2. The Gene Kelly
This driver is a pro at lightly tapping the brake while approaching the stop, with no intention of coming to a full stop. The Gene Kelley also is adept at punching the gas to scurry through the intersection to avoid oncoming cars.
3. I have diplomatic immunity
These drivers are convinced that stops "are for thee but not for me." They have urgent business somewhere and simply can't be bothered with traffic sign trifles.
On the serious side, I've seen more than my fair share of near misses that took my breath away. Drivers eschewing full stops - or any for that matter - coming within inches of calamitous accidents or hitting kids on bikes or scooters.
Perhaps the worst intersection I frequent is at Lincoln Street and Hinsdale Avenue. Recently a car blew through the stop sign heading west on Hinsdale Avenue, a fraction of a second before I was coming out of my stop headed north on Lincoln Street to cross the railroad tracks. A split second earlier and my wife would've absorbed the full impact of a T-bone collision. I laid on my horn only to receive the middle finger salute from the offending driver, oblivious and indignant to the near tragic event of her making.
C'mon Hinsdale drivers, let's do better. We may be late or miss our train, but the sun will come up tomorrow. It only takes a split second for the sun to set, tragically, on someone in the aftermath of a violent accident.
- Kevin Cook of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].