Let’s all try to make Fred happy
I bumped into an old friend named Fred the other day and he had a question for me, he said.
“When did all the rules change?” he wanted to know.
“What rules?” I asked him.
“You know, the rules of the road. When did they all change. Nobody seems to know them anymore. Or, if they do, they don’t follow them anymore.”
I had to admit that Fred had a point. Now, in full disclosure, “Fred” is not his real name. But I know Fred well enough to know he would not want to be identified by his real name in a world-famous newspaper columnist’s weekly column. Or even one like this one. So, I will just call him Fred, and let him stay anonymous.
I explained to Fred I had written several times about how people don’t seem to know the driving laws. He responded that he had read those past columns but maybe it is time I should write another.
I said, maybe it is.
We compared notes of incidents from just the past week or two.
For instance, I was making a right turn the other day, with a driver coming in the opposite direction going to make a left turn onto the same street I was turning right onto. I started making my turn and then noticed he was making his turn at the same time. I was taught I had the right of way in such a situation, being the person turning right, but that rule must have changed because he stopped and honked at me, indicating he thought I was in the wrong.
Fred had someone coming down the street towards him and the driver was drifting into Fred’s lane. Fred had to pull to the right and honk his horn in order to avoid a head on crash. And, yes, you guessed it, the other driver was on his phone.
Fred and I agreed that distracted driving is a big issue. And after Aug. 1, using a phone for texting while driving will be officially illegal, and not just a dumb idea you shouldn’t do.
Fred said he wished everyone would learn how to go through a roundabout. We both had a multitude of stories of near misses in the roundabouts in Blue Earth, most of them having to do with people not knowing when they should, or should not, enter the roundabout and who has the right of way.
“It is so easy,” Fred said. “You yield to the driver who is already in the circle. How come folks can’t learn that?”
I had to agree, but I added that perhaps folks don’t know what the word “yield” means. Some apparently think it means get through the roundabout as fast as you can.
Speed was another big issue Fred and I agreed on. People are in a hurry and don’t slow down. Even for people in crosswalks. Fred wanted to know if those little cones that tell people to stop for pedestrians in cross walks are going up again this year. I told him that city administrator Tim Ibisch had just mentioned that, yes, they were going up again.
I stopped for two ladies in the crosswalk by the courthouse the other day, and they were surprised I did so. But they seem pleased.
Sometimes crossing Main Street, even in a crosswalk, means taking a risk. I?guess everyone is in such a hurry to get somewhere they can’t even stop for a minute and let someone get to the other side of the street safely.
Fred said he has even seen drivers stopped at a stop sign not let pedestrians cross before they took off.
Fred also brought up kids on bikes riding on sidewalks, riding on the wrong side of the street (not going with traffic but against it), and apparently not knowing the traffic laws apply to them.
While I agreed, I pointed out there had just been a bike rodeo at the school where dozens of kids were being taught the rules of the road and how they apply to them. Maybe there is hope, I said. Now if we could just get the adult bicycle riders to all know the rules of the road.
And hopefully the bicyclists can stay off the downtown sidewalks. Too often bikers, adult and kids alike, ride their bikes fast on the sidewalks. Someone coming out of a store is in danger of getting hit.
So you may think this is just two old guys crabbing about something. But I bet everyone of you reading this could come up with a lot of your own stories about people not knowing, or ignoring, those rules of the road.
So here we go again. Learn the rules of the road. Slow down, buckle up, don’t drive distracted and try to drive courteously.
You’ll help make Fred happy. And that is a good thing.