"Slow down. You got all weekend to get home," a traffic reporter named Keith Kalland lectured radio listeners. Mr. Kalland passed away a few years back, but those words are stronger these days. Honestly, why are we all in such a hurry?
I was driving on a downtown street the other day. A large black SUV pulled up alongside me following an out-of-town automobile closely ahead. The owner of the SUV from TurnerCounty kept beeping at the right-turn-signaling car from Virginia to turn right on red.
“What’s holding this person up?” is what most of us would be thinking.
Perhaps that car’s owner was a bit lost. We all get that way when visiting a strange city. Still, the SUV was creeping up on the car beeping away. Obviously the SUV’s driver was in a hurry.
I always give an out-of-towner the benefit of the doubt. The entire metro area is difficult to navigate in uncharted territory. Unfortunately, the SUV owner did not give the Virginia vehicle the same benefit of the doubt. That attitude has always been a problem in these parts. Too many people in too many huge fast-moving vehicles have way too much on their plates and are in a hurry way too much. This attitude leads to a variety of accidents including hit and run.
All too often, reports of hit and run accidents occur in the metro. Another hit and run occurred just the other night. Someone in an SUV was in a hurry late at night while a pedestrian was attempting to cross a multi-lane road. The camera captured the assault vehicle hitting the victim. Authorities feel that they might be onto something since the vehicle was turning into a nearby subdivision. The thinking goes that the SUV owner lives in the area. From the night-vision video that captured the tragedy, it’s tough to tell just what type of SUV hit the pedestrian. Here’s hoping that the authorities have the tools to find the suspect.
Leaving the downtown area is no picnic. I-75 and I-85 composes the Downtown Connector. This stretch of road requires drivers to make last minute lane changes. If you wish to witness rudeness at its highest level, just travel this stretch when you have little time to get over three or four lanes. The lack of respect is evident on the Downtown Connector with plenty of local and out-of-town drivers who do not allow you to move over multiple lanes. Way too many accidents occur on this congested corridor. Recently, I was on that stretch of road when a tailgating pick-up truck slammed into a sedan.
Is this lack of traffic decorum a sign of ignorance or an overall cultural decay whereby the “survival of the fittest” make their way through town? Are we in such a hurry that those with the largest toys trump those with the smaller toys simply because the offenders need to get to Point B in record time?
Indeed the rudeness cuts both ways. Pedestrians stray from the crosswalks. Cyclists ride up in the middle of the roads. Some drivers are slower thus they are “clogging up the system.” We’ve seen that argument played out in the comments sections on blogs a million times over for years. Still, what’s the hurry? Where’s the respect? Life is short and most likely — those in their SUVs will get to their locations.
So, just what was holding up that out-of-towner who I witnessed getting harassed by the Turner County SUV? There were a number of cars at the intersection, so my field-of-view was limited. After one stinking minute, I saw a guy emerge in an electric wheelchair who happily made his way through the intersection in the crosswalk. The Turner County SUV’s horn finally went silent. The wheelchair owner made it safely to the other side. The car from Virginia slowly made the right turn. The Turner County SUV followed right on heels of the out-of-town vehicle. And so it goes.