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Are drivers really getting better?

By Staff | Sep 16, 2018

It seems like every summer I end up writing this column about driving. Specifically, all the bad driving going on around Blue Earth, the rest of Faribault County, the whole state of Minnesota and even the entire United States.

You probably noticed I didn’t write such a column this year.

The reason for that is all that bad driving didn’t seem to be around this year. Maybe my past columns finally made an impact. People read them and decided that the editor is right and decided to start practicing safe driving habits.

OK, maybe that is not the reason.

But, all in all, I have seen an improvement. Maybe you noticed it, too.

Oh, it isn’t perfect.

People still don’t always come to a full stop when the red sign says STOP. Some still don’t even come to any kind of a stop and just slow down a little and then zoom through the intersection. But, it has been a little better. There are a few who actually come to a full stop.

Drivers don’t seem to be speeding as much as they did last year. Maybe that is due to the fact there is construction all around Blue Earth and Winnebago, Wells, and pretty much everywhere else you go.

I got stuck the other day on the road to Frost, which was all torn up and was in fact just starting to get paved. It was definitely a time for slowing down. Way down. In fact, I had to come to a complete stop at one point when the paving equipment was coming right at me. That is one way to get folks to come to a full stop.

Then there are those roundabouts all round about Blue Earth. Can folks really be getting the hang of how to maneuver their way through them? Have they really learned the driver in the circle has the right of way, and you have to wait your turn to enter the circle if there is traffic already going around inside? Well, it seems so.

No, it isn’t perfect. Some drivers still don’t get it, and I do see someone trying to zoom through because they probably do not know how to do it properly. Or some who are still stopping in the circle to let in another driver. But, it is not as chronic as it used to be.

The number of motorcycles roaring through Blue Earth, especially down Main Street, was way fewer than the past couple of years. Maybe they got tired of it and now are riding at a normal speed and perhaps they even got new mufflers put on their bikes. Last year they rattled the windows on my house all the time, as they roared by. This year, not so much.

Or perhaps it was the weather. Either too wet or too hot for motorcycle riding.

This past summer I even saw, get ready for it, a driver come to a stop at an intersection to let a pedestrian cross the street in the crosswalk. Yes, I know, shocking! And once or twice I even saw a driver stop to let a car back out of a diagonal parking spot on Main Street. Wow!

This apparent improvement in driving skills and consideration of others does not transfer to everywhere else, however. Driving around the Twin Cities and even smaller cities such as Mankato is still an adventure, to say the least. That is mainly because there is just plain too much traffic. Where are all those people going? Doesn’t anyone stay home anymore?

And they drive fast. Really fast.

So do folks every else around the U.S., I have learned.

A recent trip to the East Coast taught me that once again. The speed limit might say 65 miles per hour, and I might go 70, but everyone else was doing 80, it seemed. Is Minnesota the only state in the union that enforces the posted speed limit? After a few road trips this past year, it certainly seems that way.

So here are some free words of advice for when you are out driving.

Stop at the stop signs. And then look both ways before proceeding. You might be a minute late for that appointment, but that is OK.

Slow down in the roundabouts and learn how to properly navigate through them. Remember it is not a race to see who can get through them the fastest.

And, always, put the phone down. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drive distracted in any way. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Remember, there are some other drivers out there who really are not paying attention.

And, always wear that seat belt. (I am trying to do better when it is that short little trip in Blue Earth. Then I?remember about all the folks who don’t stop at stop signs and I buckle up.)

Drive safe. And thanks for not roaring down Main Street.