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Pul-eze practice safe driving skills

By Staff | Jun 11, 2017

Yikes! What is wrong with some people?

OK, I have written about this in the past. And, maybe you can call it “crochety old man” syndrome. What does crochety mean anyway? Perhaps it is better if we don’t know.

But I digress.

The topic is driving skills and some people’s total lack of any. One does not have to drive very far around Blue Earth to notice it. Other towns and cities have issues with it as well, I suppose.

I see several problem areas and I see them almost every day.

First is speeding. Everyone is in a big hurry these days. Nobody wants to slow down, not even when the sign says stop. Well, everyone that is, except for that old guy in the 1968 Ford pickup doing five miles per hour down the road.

Being in a hurry also leads to item two, being a rude, or at least discourteous, driver. Nobody wants to stop and let another driver back out of a diagonal parking spot on Main Street. And even worse, too many drivers don’t stop for a pedestrian waiting to cross at a designated crosswalk. That is true even when the city has posted these cute little “Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalks” signs at intersections.

I have tested it, by standing and waiting to cross, and only about 1 in 5 drivers stops. Except of course, that old guy in the 1968 Ford pickup who stops at those signs even when there are no pedestrians visible, just because the sign says Stop.

The next item is actually the biggest issue, not only in Blue Earth and Faribault County, but across the nation as well. Distracted driving. And the No. 1 cause of distracted driving is, of course, the cell phone. It is hard to drive very far without seeing someone talking on one, or worse, texting, checking their email, or Googling websites or asking their smart phone for directions.

Smart phones are not the only cause of distracted driving, of course. There is listening to the radio, visiting with passengers in the car with you, eating that fast food burger and fries you just picked up for lunch, looking in the mirror to check your hair or makeup, even looking for that power cord so you can plug in your smart phone that is going dead because you have been talking on it so much while driving.

Even our friend in the old Ford pickup is guilty of distracted driving. He is usually looking left and right at what is new around town and not paying any attention to the road ahead.

Next there is my biggest complaint; people’s lack of knowledge about how to use a roundabout.

When Blue Earth had three of them installed a couple of years ago, it was a huge problem. Then it seemed to improve for quite a while. But lately it seems to have become bad again. It is hard to go through all three of them without seeing someone who obviously does not know what to do.

Those of us who use the roundabouts nearly every day are pretty used to them. The rules are pretty simple. If you are in the circle of the roundabout you have the right of way. If you are waiting to enter the roundabout, you have to yield. That means you might even have to come to a full stop and wait your turn to enter.

And remember what I already said about people not wanting to come to a stop even at stop sign, much less at a yield sign.

In the last few weeks I have seen quite a few drivers who just don’t seem to get it. Either they are just bent on going through the roundabout as fast as they can to get it over with, so they enter right in front of a vehicle already in the roundabout, or they are in the roundabout and stop to be nice and allow someone to enter.

That is not the time to be a courteous driver, for heavens sake.

Just last week, while driving in the roundabout by the Green Giant, I was following a vehicle and for fun let’s just say it was our friend in the 1968 Ford pickup.

A semi-truck was headed south on Highway 169 and was correctly waiting his turn to enter the roundabout. The pickup driver stopped to let the semi enter the roundabout.

I had to virtually stand on my brake pedal in order to not collide with the pickup. Luckily I was not practicing any distracted driving techniques at the time.

The pickup driver, now at a complete stop, was waving the semi driver to come into the roundabout. The semi driver was waving at the pickup driver to continue on. Which he eventually did.

It would have been pretty funny if it wasn’t such a dangerous and dumb thing to do.

So please, please, practice safe driving when you are on the roads. Slow down, buckle up, turn the phone off, and learn how to use a roundabout.

And, for Heaven’s sake don’t drive 130 mph down I-90 on the wrong side of the freeway. Or, have your 12-year-old son drive you home, down I-90 while you are drunk in the back seat.

(See Katie Mullaly’s stories on page 3 of the Register for details.)