Driving straight on that road could get you killed.
I don’t usually find much but self-serving junk in press releases, but this is interesting – it talks about the deceptive power of an optical illusion you might encounter while driving.
In the case of Gunderson v. County of San Diego, the Plaintiff was being driven by a friend on Mussey Grade Road at 10:30pm. Mussey Grade Road is located in Ramona, and had originally been constructed to continue straight, intersecting with State Route 67. However, the road was re-aligned in 1992 to create a left-hand curve. As plaintiff’s friend approached State Route 67, she thought the roadway continued straight and plunged over an 8-foot embankment into a ditch below. The Plaintiff, who was a passenger in the vehicle, suffered substantial injuries.
From the distance, it looked like the road went straight.
Attorneys for the Plaintiff argued that the modifications made to Mussey Grade Road actually created an optical illusion. Drivers approaching the curve at night see a traffic signal, flashing yellow lights, as well as headlights in the distance, giving the impression that the road continues straight. "For someone unfamiliar with this roadway, the traffic signal and flashing yellow lights were like beacons in the darkness drawing the driver’s attention," Huver said. "The fact that the curve began in a dark area with no street lights, combined with the illusion of signal lights and traffic ahead, created one of the most dangerous curves in San Diego County."
The attorneys for Mr. Gunderson (Richard A. Huver and Karin H. Wick) won the case. It probably helped that there had been 6 collisions over a 7 year period at the same location. County workers fixed the dangerous intersection by…
"…improving the signage, including installation of an "Advance Curve Ahead" warning sign and a large "Sharp Curve and Stop Ahead" sign. In addition, engineers installed a flashing yellow beacon to warn drivers of the impending curve, and even erected a fence to eliminate the optical illusion that the road continued straight ahead."
– Two San Diego Attorneys Settle Auto Accident Case Involving Optical Illusion, and County of San Diego Makes Significant Safety Improvements to the Road, Benzinga press release>>
– Google map>>