Which way is west again?

Column by Faryal Zubair

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While many people use common sense on a regular basis, I feel that its use is only required on demand. Unfortunately, it’s not something that I demand from myself very often.

As a 16-year-old, the biggest dream of my life is about to come true. Soon, I will be getting my license. Oh, but is it ever that easy? One must always conquer his/her fears first. If you’re scared of heights, climb to the highest building. If you’re scared of the dark, sleep with the lights off. If you’re scared of speeding cars buzzing by you, take the interstate. Up until a couple of weeks ago, that was my biggest fear; the interstate.

All through the school day, I kept convincing myself, “How hard could it be?” It’s not as if I had never driven before. I would be the same exact thing … just twice as fast. But I was still determined to be optimistic! I dragged my 22-year-old sister along with me. While she had her own set of doubts about getting in the car with me, she realized that I wasn’t going to back down. Finally, she gave into my persuasion.

Everything was going pretty smoothly as I was driving up Rosser Avenue. My plan was to go on I-64W for a couple of minutes. If things got tough, I would simply take the next exit off the interstate. As I reached the stoplight before the exit, I saw a board that was flashing something. I couldn’t quite read it from such a far distance. The light turned green, and I accelerated forward. The board was in front of 64W and read something like “Fog on mountain.” Well, I certainly wasn’t going on that interstate. Imagine the kind of disaster that would become.

I decided to take the next closest interstate. The next one wasn’t that farther. I asked my sister if I could take the next interstate, and she didn’t seem to mind. So I took the next left onto 64E. Just because there was fog on 64W didn’t mean there would be fog on 64 E … right? Apparently, I was very wrong.

I pulled off the ramp, and surprisingly there wasn’t much traffic. The horror was fading away! This wasn’t bad at all. I couldn’t believe that I was actually driving on the interstate at 70 mph. But then I started to see something white fading in and out. Fog? No, it couldn’t be. But of course with my luck, it was. My sister asked me if I wanted to take the next exit off, but I decided not to. It wasn’t that foggy, and I was even enjoying myself. I assumed that the fog had just appeared once and wasn’t possibly going to ruin my first time on the interstate. Although I should’ve realized that the fog had no interest in my well-being at all. It came back.

This time, I couldn’t see a thing. Everything became a blur. The only things keeping me on the road were the fog lights. I never realized their fascinating significance until that particular moment. What a great way to remember my first time on the interstate.

I knew that the situation was becoming too dangerous. I tried to stay calm and read the blurry signs in front of me. It felt as if the next exit ramp was thousands of miles away, but I finally reached it and safely headed back home.

While some might call this my own stupidity, I have to say that in my defense, I really had no idea that both 64W and 64E were both leading away from or onto a mountain. Imagine being a tourist in Waynesboro who is trying to find his/her way around; do you expect them to know this little tidbit as well?

Driving becomes easy when the driver understands the rules of the road. It becomes even easier when the signs that need to be followed are in the correct place and are clear.

The truth of the matter is that simple mistakes like these can cause big accidents. According to car-accidents.com, approximately 115 people die everyday because of motor-vehicle accidents in the United States. So if you consider the statistics, people losing their lives because of unclear signs and directions isn’t funny at all. It’s unfortunate.

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