Some drivers not aware of U-turn rule
By MATT RENNELS
Drivers are often faced with choices, such as whether or not to pull a U-turn, and many motorists who have received tickets for doing so in Clarksville complain they weren't made aware. Clarksville City Court Clerk Ernie Griffith recently approached the Clarksville City Council about the issue.
"There are signs posted in some areas, but there are no signs leading into the main arteries of the city," Griffith said.
While it is not a state law, the city passed an ordinance in 1963 which prohibited U-turns, and a citation for the violation costs $135.75.
Griffith said he decided to approach the council after hearing the same complaint numerous times.
"We have a considerable number of people that come in that were totally unaware that U-turns are prohibited," he said.
"People that aren't from here, and where they are from, U-turns aren't prohibited."
The Council asked Griffith to get an approximate price of the signs, and he said he will propose about 12 signs at $50 each to the City's Public Safety Committee on the 16th, and if approved, the committee will forward a recommendation to the council. Lt. Gary Hurst, supervisor of CPD's Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, said he has heard a lot of the same complaints.
"We are getting comments from motorists who say 'how am I supposed to know that?'" Hurst said.
"It is a city ordinance, and we are tasked to enforce city ordinances," he added.
Hurst said they have also discussed getting the word out that U-turns are prohibited, proposing ideas of signs, billboards or even television ads to notify the public.
Hurst said it is important the public be notified, because U-turns can be dangerous.
"A lot of what we do when we drive the roadways has to do with cooperation.
"We have to anticipate each others' driving," he said. "(A U-turn) is an action by a motorist that is hard to anticipate by another motorist."
Ginger Tucker, an Austin Peay student and lifelong resident of Clarksville, said she is aware of the law because she has lived here all her life, and will "only do it in dire circumstances."
Tucker said she has seen people breaking the law on campus and throughout Clarksville, and said people should be able to recognize that U-turns are illegal in Clarksville whether or not signs are posted.
Griffith said that even though signs aren't posted throughout the city, that is no excuse for breaking the law.
"Ignorance of a law is no excuse," he said. "If you drive in an area, you need to make yourself aware of the traffic laws."
Matt Rennels is the crime and public safety reporter and can be reached by telephone at 245-0216 or by e-mail at mattrennels@the leafchronicle.com.