Wrecks in front of Wendy's: a way-too-deep data dive

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People in this part of this country are known for being polite.

However, when it comes to driving and driving etiquette, sometimes people can be "too polite."

This is evident by the 27 documented crashes in front of Wendy's on North Columbia in the last three years. According to the accident reports, the biggest problem is the "third lane" or decel lane on North Columbia and onto Dunlap Road. Out of the 27 documented accidents, 13 of them occurred in the decel lane or "third lane" in front of Wendy's.

In this scenario, northbound traffic on North Columbia Street basically comes to a stop in front of Wendy's. The motorists who are stopped will either "wave" for the left-hand turner to turn into Wendy's, or vehicles that are stopped will leave enough space for the left-hand turner to make the left. Then, someone traveling in the decel lane between North Columbia and Dunlap doesn't see the left-hand turner, and the two vehicles collide.

Here's a sampling of what some of the drivers relayed to cops following these crashes:

•" (Left-hand turner) stated multiple cars were waving at him and created a space to turn into Wendy's."

• "Left-hand) turner stated that she turned left due to vehicles in both northbound lanes advising her to turn."

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• "(Left-hand turner) made a left hand turn...from the center turning lane through a gap provided by traffic stopped at the red light."

• "(Left-hand turner) stated a vehicle in the northoubond lane stopped and allowed her to turn left."

• "(Left-hand turner) stated the inner northbound made a gap for him to turn left."

• "(Left-hand turner) stated traffic stopped in the inside and middle straight lanes for her to make her turn."

• (Left-hand turner) "stated...traffic stopped so he could make a left turn into the parking lot."

• (Left-hand turner) stated another driver "waved his hand to signal safe passage."

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The important thing to remember, according to Chief Dray Swicord, is that the decel lane onto Dunlap isn't an "exit ramp."

"People trying to get to Dunlap will pull into that (decel) lane actually before Wendy's and build up speed," he said. "But, that's not the purpose of a decel lane. A decel lane is the same as a center turning lane. You're not allowed to just cruise for long stretches of road in the center turning lane, and you're not allowed to do so in a decel lane either."

Instead, Swicord said that motorists attempting to turn off of North Columbia and onto Dunlap should be more patient and at lest wait until after Wendy's before pulling into the decel lane. Swicord added that pulling into a decel lane too early actually a traffic violation and that motorists can be written a traffic citation for doing it.

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