Parent Shaming and Blaming; Two-mile Hill

OK. Here goes. Can we please stop the parent shaming? I am soul-weary when it comes to this subject. Every time I log on, tune in or go out, I hear people slamming parents. There are parents complaining about other parents who don’t do things the way they would do them. There are grandparents blaming parents for missteps and mistakes — no doubt some of the same ones those grandparents made 40 years ago. There are do-nothing, know-everything bloggers and pundits and talking heads bemoaning the way parents are addicted to technology — all the while making a living off these people they ridicule. Parents receive criticism from every corner of the world, community and even their own home.

I believe most parents are doing the best the can for their children. I would like to see us educate without judgment and offer a helping hand not a personal slam. I would like the government not to hamstring parents with laws that dictate rather than support.

I admit I have been guilty a few times of making scathing, blanket statements about parents. I have noted with smug satisfaction how such posts racked up the “likes.” But there is no room for inflated ego when you are trying to make a positive difference in homes, schools and communities. Am I defeating my own argument by adopting an indignant tone? Sometimes you have to play the game to score a point.

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The Ohio County Commission, the West Virginia Department of Highways and the Ohio County Sheriff’s Office last week discussed the safety issues of Two-Mile Hill leading to and from The Highlands, with no reported resolution.

The stretch of highway is a nightmare, as anyone who has driven it knows. In fact, I have heard people declare they will not shop at The Highlands because of the treacherous road, opting instead to drive to St. Clairsville. There were eight accidents in a 48-hour period last month. That’s astonishing and frightening. As many times as I have heard people discussing this subject, I have never heard anyone assess the problem the way I see it.

Let’s take a virtual ride: Here we are, heading down the ramp onto Interstate 70 from The Highlands. We’re picking up speed, which, of course, we have to do to merge onto the interstate. There’s a big wedge of space between the ramp and the highway on our left, so we’re not thinking of merging yet. The ramp seems to continue a long way.

OK, the ramp is shorter than we thought. We check our mirrors — there are a couple of tractor-trailers barreling down the hill side by side. We can’t merge yet, anyway, because the solid white line on our left means it’s still not permitted, despite the fact we are running out of lane! We are really cruising now, and so are those semis. Finally, the solid line becomes dashed, but only for about the final 50 feet of lane. We engage the brakes. The semis pass, but now we are going too slowly to safely merge as the vehicles heading downhill are coming on fast.

We glance in the mirror to see the car behind us whip over onto the highway. Great. We nearly swipe him as we are forced to merge with 15 feet of lane left. Fortunately, there is no one in the passing lane, and he gets over to make room for us. What if he didn’t move over or hadn’t been able to?

Now imagine all this taking place at night, say 10 p.m., when there are tons of trucks on the road. Or how about in the rain or snow? Then add into the mix people checking their phones or dealing with kids or a crying baby or a Sheetz sandwich. It’s a disaster waiting to happen, every. single. time.

I am no engineer, but the common-sense solution, the way I see it, is widening the highway to three lanes all the way past the bottom of the hill. Also, drivers should be permitted to merge onto 70 much sooner than the last 10 yards or so of the half-mile ramp. In addition, let’s add huge signage — an electronic sign over the road — for the people on the highway to slow down and be aware of cars merging.

Yes, people are going too fast down that hill, but I don’t see that changing unless you put rumble strips on the highway. Also not a bad idea.

Betsy Bethel is the Life editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register and the editor of OV Parent magazine. Her email is bbethel@theintelligencer.net.

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