Is the pen mightier than a two-ton vehicle barreling down a narrow, unpainted, unsigned roadway in the rural High Country?
We shall see.
A recent petition to post white-signed speed limits along the winding stretch of Railroad Grade Road from Todd into Ashe County is one that has already gained hundreds of local signatures from both sides of the track. Many vehicle drivers who cannot fail to note that this road is limited to nearly paint-scraping width in certain places — the absence of right-of-way means the road currently cannot be widened — echo the concerns of those who use the scenic route for walking, running or biking.
Of course, the absence of a speed limit sign is not a license for High Country drivers to motor along as if they were on the Autobahn — the law is the law even in the absence of signage — but when no limits are posted, those current yellow 35 mph signs are too often taken as irrelevant suggestions by many vehicle operators.
It is encouraging that this road is not regularly cited for accidents — obviously, a good number of drivers exercise common sense by maintaining a speed congruent with weather conditions and road design; or simply pull aside and drop their speed to a crawl when those in the opposite lane or tailgating are not so considerate. But, “safety first” asks the question why this road and others like it (and, you can apply here your own example here from your daily sojourns in your own area of the High Country) are not regularly posted.
Here and there, High Country motorists typically encounter such roads — and signage such as “resume safe speed” is vague and means different things to different drivers. As we all know, this is life in the mountains. But to maintain that life, it’s important that all of us on the road practice safe driving at all times — and practice increased caution on roads that tend to be narrow and unpainted.
This is something we should all be able to agree on — even without a petition.