It usually happens soon after midnight. An automobile barrels northwest on Memorial Drive, continues northwest when the road bears west, and ploughs into a tree. Or perhaps the car attempts a right turn on either Plympton or DeWolf Street, without a reduction in speed. Both turns are deceptive and sharp, and the fact that DeWolf is one way the wrong way adds to the problem.
Everytime someone piles up at one of these corners, a loud cry goes up for all sorts of exotic safety devices. Cambridge has already installed a traffic signal, but aside from providing sport for those who push the red-orange button, then floc, it has served only to clog traffic during rush hours. And despite the light, drivers still bear north when the road goes west, and they still under-estimate the angle of the turn into Plympton Street.
Actually, it is a simple matter of warning night drivers of what is to come. There should be a sign, embedded with glass beads, announcing that DeWolf Street is forbidden to those driving on Memorial Drive, and another sign announcing the curve west in the Drive itself. And there should be a row of posts, all equipped with those little beads, informing drivers of the dangers lurking in a fast turn onto Plympton Street.
These may be prosaic answers to a dramatic problem, but little else is possible without making Memorial Drive traffic more of a dilemma than it is already. Although a few signs and a few posts will clutter up the Houses' classic view of the Charles, they are far better decorations than pieces of glass, fender, and smashed tree that will otherwise continue to festoon the vista every week or so.