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Alarmed citizen, or grumpy old man?


I’m becoming a curmudgeon and it’s not entirely my fault.  It’s the fault of all the idiots on the roads who are using 25% - or less of their cognizance to actually operate their motor vehicle.  I do not see myself as a bad-tempered or surly person when I’m behind the wheel of my venerable 4X4 Jeep.  I see myself as a conscientious driver with a proven track record of no tickets and 46 years without running into someone.

I use my blinker and actually come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights.  Please do not run into me in your haste to get somewhere you deem important.

My Bride is the one who has brought my current angry status to my attention and she is right.  I have become a very angry driver.  My patience has worn thin and I have a gut-feeling, it is only going to get worse.
4 car wreck at Garth and Rollingbrook in Baytown
To reopen a giant sore spot of past citizen concern, I want to reintroduce what I thought (and still do) was a good idea – the red light cameras.  Yes, yes, I understand that the money was leaving town and that folks felt like Big Brother was watching them and all of this is and was true and being a Sci-fi buff, I understand the full implications of that…however, just as I predicted, people are now blowing through red lights as if they were cautionary instead of what they are – red lights.  You are supposed to come to a complete stop.

It is happening at every instance and intersection.  I often wonder who taught these traffic offenders Drivers education?  A driver can’t blindly proceed through an intersection on a green light in the far right lane, because someone is going to come flying up and take a right on red and barely tap their brakes.  Add into it that they are eating or have an electronic device up against the side of their head and safe passage is jeopardized.

Pulling up to a red light, any red light and the electronic device distraction is in full force.  The person closest to the red light gets my 118 decibel horn blast after three long seconds of green light and this is after I restrain myself and my bride pleads with me to be patient.  Often all two or three lanes have distracted drivers and everyone behind them is caught waiting for them to go.

The other day I was on Baker Road by San Jacinto Methodist heading east and the guy in front of me comes to a complete halt in the road to look at his phone.  I eased out from around him to pass and he lays the phone down and speeds up to the red light and takes a right on red without stopping.  Arhggg!

This kind of erratic and irresponsible driving used to be a rare occurrence, but not any more.  It has become so common, it is expected and thus my dilemma.  Do I simply go with the flow or should I get on Prozac?  I think I need something stronger, like Librium, or Valium, Diazepam, Alprazolam, or Lorazepam.  Heck, if I don’t get a hold on it, I fear my bride is going to send me to anger management.

Wait a second.  What if the general population were to lay down their phones when driving or waiting for a red light and actually operate their motor vehicles and drive the way they were trained?  What if people actually took responsibility for their careless, dangerous, and distracted driving and stopped doing the things they are doing that can get them and others killed?

I sent a photo to the Baytown Sun last week of a 4 car accident on Garth road where one car stopped for a red light and the next three cars plowed into the back of their car.  In case these people have forgotten what they learned in Drivers Education, if you run into the car in front of you – you are too close.  If you are continually tapping your brakes because of the car in front of you – you are too close.

If you are looking at your cell phone while driving, you are too close to the car in front of you regardless.  If you take a right on red without stopping and kill someone, you will face Capital murder charges, or at the very least criminal negligent homicide, trust me on that one. 
I’ll make a deal with all of you good citizens that are distracted by your communications devices and inability to come to a complete stop before turning.  I’ll keep my road rage in check and try my best not to point out your irresponsible driving habits to my bride if you will do your part to obey the traffic laws and put your phone where you can’t reach it when you’re driving.


Anonymous said…
Good job Bert. Fred
Hans ter Beek said…
One of my longtime pet peeves!, couldn't agree more!
Anonymous said…
Try driving into Houston every morning. My commute is 25 miles. One day last week, it took me just slightly more than two hours. I really am starting to loathe this place. TWB
Anonymous said…
Another excellent article in The Baytown Sun this morning, Bert. I was hollering, "Amen" from my recliner while reading it. I have just about worn out my headlight switch while flashing my lights at people who don't use their turn signals while changing lanes. Grrrrrr! DDC
Steve said…
Amen BB. You hit the nail on the head.
Anonymous said…
By grumpy old man, does that mean that you didn't consider yourself grumpy when you were younger? SJ
Anonymous said…
My peeve are the idiots that completely disregard stop signs. They coast right through them as if they do not exist. When I give them a little "correction honk" they typically salute me with the center digit of their hand that is not holding a cell phone!

I have sent emails to the Baytown PD regarding this as I am sick of it.
Anonymous said…
It's a new way of driving that will probably continue since technology is in the hands of children. They are growing up with the phone being an extension of the arm. And your question about where do they get their training? The young ones are parent-taught by courses approved by the State. The training is only as good as the trainer. I hope your article will reach some of these drivers. It got my attention . WC
Anonymous said…
An article that makes you think, good job again BB. SS
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
I am with you on the red light cameras. I think they did much more good than harm. If the police force is like the plant I worked at they are understaffed , overworked , and don't have time to babysit red lights. Many years ago my dad taught me just because a light is green does not mean you can go. Also the speed limit is just a suggestion. Later Cliff
Anonymous said…
Thank you. It's against the Law in Georgia to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Does that stop anyone? Not that I've noticed. It's the teenager behind me that scares me, or the one I happen to be approaching as he zig-zags across the road. SW
Alan Carlson said…
I agree with all of this except the RLC. I was for them when they were being proposed and when they were installed but against them when the city started jacking with the yellow light times. That makes the intersections LESS safe, not more. I think RLC along with engineering controls like longer yellows and an "all red" time would make a much bigger difference and increase safety but it reduces the revenue.

But as far as the distracted drivers go, spot on. I was rear-ended by a guy that I assume was texting, last year in front of the mall.
Anonymous said…
We were at a red light on Garth a couple of months ago when the people behind us hit us after they were rear-ended. A Red can see it a long way off. Really no excuse. Connie

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