The safety of Highway 83

Thanks to a recent letter in the paper, I see it’s time for another mini-rant about too-high speed limits and inadequate safety signs on North Dakota roads, particularly Highway 83.

Fern Skarphol described driving on cruise at the speed limit of 70 and pulling into the passing lane when her daughter Andrea said she thought “there was a semi coming at us in the wrong lane.” It was.

She pulled back in just in time. Her comment should be repeated: “Taught me a lesson that even if I need to pass I will wait until I can see clear passing as there are a few hills on the highway and had I been on one of those we would be history.”

Exactly. Highway 83 is not a freeway. But with its inadequate signage, it poses as one, giving drivers a false sense of safety. There are no blind hills or knolls on real freeways. Driving on an actual freeway, you can see far ahead with unobstructed vision.

Freeways also have wide shoulders, off and on ramps, no cross traffic, no U-turns and, in most states, no vehicles (including combines) below 40 MPH.

At the very least, 83 needs better signage, including no passing zones and lower speed limits where there are blind hills or knolls, and warning signs where there is cross traffic or U-turns. And at entry points to four lane traffic, the reminder sign: THIS IS NOT A FREEWAY. OBSERVE CAUTION SIGNS.

(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)