There's a section of Route 18 in New Bedford, around Walnut Street, that has become a fatal junction for three people in the last three years. There's a good-sized cobblestone stationary planter that people keep crashing into, and now there's talk around town about whether or not to remove the planter.

The ones who are against moving the planters say it's the motorist's own fault because, "they're speeding through the intersection like a bat out of hell, and they've been drinking!" I won't disagree with that listener because I travel Rt. 18 often, and I've seen how fast people go.

In our back-and-forth on the air, I asked a caller if moving the planter out of there would save someone's life, would they favor transplanting the planter? The caller yelled back that he wouldn't support moving it because it's their own damn fault, entirely.

Another caller suggested that that particular section was poorly designed to begin with, and that a guard rail would be a better answer rather than the planter. Even though Route 18 is a state road, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said where the planters are located is under the care and control of the City of New Bedford, and went on to say that the planters were not installed or permitted by MassDOT.

The city has to decide what to do. I'm on the side of the person who recommended a guardrail. That makes sense and would probably save the lives of people crashing their vehicles into it and careening off. The problem with the planter is that it is immobile, rooted to that spot. So when a crash occurs, it's the equivalent of smashing into a stone wall.

I know the problems include speeding and impaired driving. But in the larger picture, life is precious to have, and if moving the planter means we could save someone's life, then this dilemma is a no-brainer.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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