A cautionary tale about walking across interstate highways, as if such caution was necessary.

A traffic jam greeted me after work this afternoon just as I was exiting Interstate 10 for 11th Street. Our city is 80 miles from Houston but we have no amenities such as traffic updates on the radio telling us what’s ahead or where we should detour.

It was rather automatic, though, that I knew any kind of major accident in the general vicinity of where I was at the time would have major traffic repercussions. That is because right past my exit is a “Y” in which traffic may either continue west toward Houston on I-10 or north toward the Beaumont shopping district and the ‘burbs of Hardin County as well as the Pineywoods of East Texas on U.S. Hwys. 69/96/287. The first and last road will also take you to Minnesota and Montana, respectively. The middle one ends in Tenaha, Texas, for whatever reason.

That is a very troubling interchange normally, mainly between say 4-6 p.m. This is mainly because the “rush hour” traffic not going toward Houston is caught up in a mess due to several reasons, not the least being that the three highways and those feeders in its vicinity are obsolete when near Parkdale Mall and the large shopping area built around it. All the surrounding roads there have much more traffic than they can handle. Should a major accident occur within the city limit on either I-10 or the “Eastex Freeway,” as the confluence of highways is called, a bottleneck is likely to take place.

Setting the stage for what can happen with traffic when an accident happens on either freeway, there is also the possibility that someone could be seriously or even fatally injured. That is apparently what was causing the big bottleneck this afternoon as I drove to the crib from work.

Preliminary police and media reports indicate a woman was struck by an 18-wheeler while attempting to cross Interstate 10. This was a fairly short distance from where I stay. The reports say the woman received serious or perhaps even critical injuries.

I have no idea how often people are struck by motor vehicles while they are trying to cross interstate highways but even one is too many. It should be needless to say that it is a very dangerous feat to attempt. I’ve done it more than I ever wanted to do or should have done when I would access a wreck scene while working as a reporter. This was on Interstate 35 in Central Texas. I would not have even attempted such crossings had not traffic been considerably slowed by the wrecks. The cops always expected us, whether they liked it or not. I would always wait to cross in front of an 18-wheeler because they were crawling along at the slowest speeds of all oncoming traffic. I also would wait for a TV reporter and their camera person to cross and would then walk across to their left, leaving them closest to the truck-tractor. Obviously, if a truck was to hit them, then perhaps they’d provide a little buffering for me. I mean, they were always stealing our newspaper stories anyway. So …

Yes, I realize I am being a bit flippant here and I don’t mean to be so at the expense of the person who was struck. Still, these type of auto-pedestrian accidents like many such mishaps are avoidable. So let us just leave this where it is as a cautionary tale. Interstate highways can be dangerous enough without trying to cross them on foot.