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The Wild Wild West



My Bride and I were on our way to the gym the other day and had stopped behind a car in the center lane at North Main and Massey Tompkins. The car in the right lane was evidently going to go straight and when the green arrow came on signaling opposing lanes could turn, the car in front of us blasted off and turned right in front of the stopped car beside it.

Now mind you, a car was making the turn from the opposing lane and they nearly collided. My Bride and I both made loud exclamations of disbelief, not having seen such reckless driving in recent times. The very next day, I am on the opposite side of the road, wanting to drive north and get a sub sandwich. I had missed the green arrow and came to halt as the cars beside me crossed North Main and moved onto Massey Tompkins.

The light turned yellow, then red and about 5 seconds later, a small blue car blew through the intersection at about 40 miles per hour, stopping the flow of traffic from both directions. In the Chemical Plant vernacular, this would be cited as a “near miss” incident. The reality of both acts of careless driving is at the very least there would have been a terrific accident with major vehicle damage.

I’ve written about the obvious distracted driver issue before, but both of these incidents involved impatience and most likely really crappy driving decisions some idiots are making. I could use better words than crappy and idiots here, but they cover both sentiments quite well. On my way back from teaching a 0530 Spin class in Meyerland the other morning, I witnessed a wreck on the 610 Loop.

The road was heavily congested heading into town and I was in the free-flowing east bound side, when a car tapped their brakes on the west bound side. This started a chain-reaction, as all of the cars were tail-gating each other, until one slammed into the back of the one in front of it.  They were out in front of me a bit and I watched in amazement as the whole west bound side began to come to a stop and I am talking about every lane. Of course we all slowed down, because people have to rubber neck, but before we got back up to full speed the amount of stopped cars began to expand.

This careless act of tail-gaiting most likely stopped or slowed traffic for over an hour. Months ago, I did quite a bit of research on this phenomenon and posted 2 videos on my web page: www.baytownbert.us with the hopes that drivers would watch them and learn how they can help stop this aberrant and dangerous behavior. Back in the day when pushing the brake peddle may or may not stop you, drivers didn’t rely so heavily on them and I often think that people don’t connect the dots on the fact that they are hurtling down the road in a 2 ton missile.

One of my brothers asked me if I had changed out my brake pads, as he planned to repair his own Jeep Wrangler’s brakes. I told him I had no need, “as I don’t use my brakes very often”. I coast a lot, keep my distance, and allow the Jeep’s drive train to auto-slow me down. I am also old school enough to actually watch the road a quarter of a mile ahead as I drive. Am I perfect?  Nope, but I’ve never caused a wreck in 49 years of driving. To take this one step further, I watched another video, which is also on my website, about how one driver can decongest a traffic jam on the freeway.

I was skeptical at first, but low and behold, it actually works. I made it part of my driving strategy and I no longer feel the angst that is common in these situations. I maintain my distance between me and the vehicle in front of me. If someone wants in, I let them in and adjust my distance. It doesn’t sound like it works, but it does. People wait until the last second to get over to their turn-off and no one will let them in and this starts the chain reaction of braking. I let them in and there are no brake lights flashing.

The simplest way to describe the solution is for people to follow the basic rules of the road. If everyone kept their proper distance, actually paid attention, and kept the speed limit, there would be few traffic accidents and road congestion. The whole speed up and stop scenario we see on Garth Road and our freeways would all but disappear. The need to constantly change lanes to move up one car mentality would be gone also.

Stay safe out there folks. I have a feeling it is only going to get worse. People just won’t take time to do a little research and then there is the me, me, me mentality that would prevent them from changing anyway. Oh!  One more thing.  That green light doesn’t mean that you don’t need to look both ways.
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Comments

Anonymous said…
Stan Roby: It seems that many drivers are pretending to be in a NASCAR race. Years ago, when I was driving on the freeways everyday for work, I tested a hypothesis that "lane jumpers" would not do much better than those that stay in a single lane. Most of the time, over a distance of 5 miles, the "lane jumpers" were still in sight of where I was. To me, that is not significantly "improved" position.
Anonymous said…
MM: Very astute or right on.
Anonymous said…
In 1 day last week there were 2 cars that drove under tractor trailers. The news said probably distracted driving . geeze....Debi
Melinda Porter said…
I always try to keep a fair distance between me and the car in front of me, which another car usually moves into and gobbles up. I also try to let people in if they let me know they want in. Last week, I was driving on I-45, and let an 18 wheeler in so he could take the 59/69 exit I also needed to take. Once on 59/69, I need to move all the way over in less than a mile. Blinker light on, a car and an RV sped up so I couldn't get over....then the worst, the car behind me moved over as soon as the RV passed us and SPED up to prevent me from moving over in front of her. She nearly got sideswiped as I tried to move over, then realized she stepped on the gas to stop me (remember, my blinker light was on!). People are so self-absorbed they don't care about other people. ~ Melinda

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