Does anyone know what that bright red octagonal traffic sign with the letters S-T-O-P on it means?
I am not so sure.
It appears many people must think it stands for "Strongly Tromp On (gas) Pedal."
At least, most people in Blue Earth seem to think so. (But, I strongly suspect this is becoming true in most places in the country.)
Doesn't anyone know what that word STOP means?
Do they realize it means come to a full and complete stop? Do they know it then also infers that one should look both ways maybe even left, then right, then left again before pulling out from that STOP sign?
You wouldn't think so, if you spend any time watching traffic at any local intersections in the Blue Earth city limits.
Most drivers these days barely even slow down. And a lot of them don't look in both directions some not even bothering to look either way.
A day hardly goes by that a car doesn't pull right in front of me when they had a stop sign and I didn't.
It was a big black truck yesterday and I saw him coming east on Eighth Street while I was headed north on Nicollet. He sure didn't look like he was going to stop at the STOP sign and he sure didn't. He barely let up on the gas as he turned to the right, directly in front of me. Luckily I was ready for him and had slowed down.
I don't think he ever saw me.
A block later a kid on a skateboard did the same thing to him flew around the corner on Seventh, trying to make a right hand turn onto Nicollet and almost becoming a hood ornament on that big black truck.
I guess the skateboarder thought STOP signs don't apply to skateboards.
Not too surprising since vehicle drivers don't quite comprehend the concept of those big red signs.
Then there are the dozens of uncontrolled intersections in Blue Earth. That means these drivers who don't stop at STOP signs are pretty happy, because some intersections have no STOP signs no matter which direction they are going.
For instance, I was headed north on Linton Street the other day, and I can go all the way on that street without hitting a single STOP sign. However, none of the cross streets have STOP signs either.
So, when a crew cab pickup came barreling east on Fourth Street and blew right through the intersection directly in front of me the four boys in the truck were surprised to see my SUV headed right for the driver's door.
Luckily, again, I had seen them coming fast and had slowed down.
That is what you have to do at these uncontrolled intersections. Slow down at each and every one and see if there is any traffic coming from the other direction.
Unfortunately a lot of drivers think that if they don't have a STOP sign, they have the right to just cruise along the street and everyone else needs to look out for them.
Of course, a lot of drivers think that very same thing even if they do have a STOP sign.
OK, I admit it. This column has gotten a bit whiney. But, there is a point here.
I am surprised, no actually I am a bit shocked, that there are not more accidents in town due to this increasing bad habit of not stopping at those red octagonal signs.
It just seems drivers have gotten to be in too much of a hurry and are getting more and more careless.
Maybe it is time for everyone to take out that dusty driver's exam manual and reread it.
Or at least start driving like the driver's test examiner is sitting in the front seat next to you.
If he was, he would be using up a lot of pencils marking off those two points for not coming to a full and complete stop.
So, the moral of this story is to please remember to wear your seat belt at all times.
Because you never know when one of those other drivers is going to fail to stop at the red octagonal and nail you.
Next, we have to train people that while there are no STOP signs on a roundabout, a driver does have to come to a stop in order to yield to any oncoming traffic that is already on the roundabout.
Good luck with getting that concept across.