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Driver courtesy isn't just polite; it's about safety

When drivers don't show a little courtesy, it's more than a matter of manners. It can be downright unsafe.

On U.S. 49 in the UNCCharlotte area last week, at least two cars ahead of me abruptly changed lanes to turn. No advance warning. No turn signals.

Just a few days before, an ambulance headed north on U.S. 29 in Concord with flashing lights and siren. But several cars didn't even slow down, so the ambulance had to dash around them in the other lane.

To safely make room for emergency vehicles, the N.C. Highway Patrol says pull over to the right and stop. If you can't stop, slow down and move over to the right as far as you can.

If you're in the passing lane on a highway and an emergency vehicle approaches from behind, don't slam on the brakes and don't dive into the median. Move over to the right, safely.

Confusing speed limits

Richard Lafferty, who commutes on N.C. 49 into Charlotte from Concord, wants to tell state officials of speed-limit snafus near Harrisburg.

“As you head back from Charlotte to Concord on northbound (N.C.) 49, where the speed limit changes from 45 to 35 shortly before you reach the Auto Zone store, the 35 mph limit sign is almost completely obscured by overgrown trees … I know it's there because I drive it every day, but the unsuspecting could be caught unaware and still think the limit is 45.”

And where the speed limit used to change back to 45 around Fifth Third bank, “now it looks like a 45-mph limit sign is just missing there,” he said.

More confusion: Speed limits change from 55 to 45 to 35 in certain areas and some signs are missing. Drivers could think different speeds are allowed on the same stretch of road, depending on whether they're going north or south.

After hearing Lafferty's concerns, state officials said one of them could be remedied quickly.

On the hidden 35-mph sign near Auto Zone: “We can address the signs obscured by trees by just trimming the trees back,” said Scott Cole with the N.C. Department of Transportation.

On the changing speed limits, Cole said, Lafferty is correct: The limit should be 45 mph. State crews will make sure 45-mph limit signs are posted in the right places, he said.

In the meantime, watch your speed, Harrisburg.

Hydrogen caravan at UNCC

OK, this is really cool.

The Hydrogen Tour, featuring emissions-free hydrogen vehicles, will make a stop this week at UNCC.

A caravan of about eight hydrogen-powered vehicles will be at the University's Motorsports Engineering facility Friday and Saturday.

Using hydrogen to power vehicles would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, event organizers said.

The caravan will stop around 6 p.m. Friday at UNCC, where the vehicles will fuel up at mobile hydrogen stations.

Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, the public can look under the hoods and speak to engineers.

Now that's hands-on public relations. Reporters and other guests will be invited to drive the vehicles to the next stop.