Are you one of those `privileged' drivers?

TRAFFIC TALK

August 10, 2004|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHAT DO you do when one driver thinks the rules don't apply to him or her?

Don Oliver e-mailed me recently, shortly after he returned from doing the weekly grocery shopping at Hickory Ridge Giant. One driver's behavior put a nasty crick in his crankshaft.

"On my way out of the lot, I was forced to stop and wait for a substantial line of traffic to clear because a thoughtful soul driving a black Explorer decided that his dropping off movies at Blockbuster entitled him to park in the fire lane. These `more important than everyone else' people ought to be ticketed, but nothing can be done unless a police officer is present.

"How I wish there was a way to let the citizen file a report and get a citation issued. At least then they'd either help pay for our government services, or they'd have to lose precious time from their busy schedules to appear and defend themselves in a courtroom. Why is it that some people think that they should be exempt from the rules in shopping center parking lots?" he asked.

I can't answer that. But that attitude is also what motivates people to park diagonally across two parking spots in an almost-full parking lot.

Steve Wrzesien has had his share of encountering bad drivers, he noted. He recounted a midafternoon trip on Interstate 70 eastbound.

"I noticed a car change lanes from the left lane to the right lane with no turn signal. So what else is new?" he said. "When I got even with him and was ready to pass him, I couldn't believe my eyes! Not only was he speaking on his cell phone with the phone in his right hand, but he had his palm organizer in his left hand while holding the steering wheel with one finger of his left hand! I couldn't wait to get by this idiot!"

While I'm impressed at that driver's dexterity, I'm also appalled. If anything unexpected had popped up on the road in front of him, he would have been out of luck.

Ben Harris has also has noticed bad driver behavior. "I was driving eastbound on Route 32 in the left lane when I came up behind a much slower-moving pickup truck. Not only did this driver fail to yield to me, but the car in the middle lane to my right also purposely boxed me in. I signaled with my blinker and even looked over at the driver's wife and used hand signals that I wished to get in front of them. The driver would not budge, and I eventually had to resort to dangerously cutting them off to get myself out of that situation. Now I fully respect somebody else's right to drive at the posted speed limit, but it's when they try to impress that belief on me is when I get irked," he said.

The problem is, Mr. Harris, is that I'm not sure which driver's behavior is worse. Being boxed in by other drivers can be exasperating. But why does your need for speed override the other driver's right to a safe road? So while I agree with you that it wasn't nice to get boxed in or stuck behind someone taking his pickup out for a walk, there's no excuse to "dangerously cut off" anyone, ever.

Concerns about feeder roads to Route 32 motivated Gene Green to e-mail last week. "There seems to be a major issue brewing about Route 32 between Route 108 and Interstate 70," he said, acknowledging that it does indeed need widening (which is good because it is on the state's list to be widened).

"What seems to be overlooked is the fact that the four lights that have been installed cause most of the problems. If the state wants to reduce rear-end crashes, [it should] change the lights to overpasses," he said. "No matter what, the intersection at Burntwoods will be fixed and that is great. Maybe someone will also fix Linden Church, which has caused backups of three or more miles. When traffic starts, people rush - then the light changes, people stop and the ones in the rear don't always respond quickly. I believe the designer of that intersection should be forced to drive through it at least four to five times in the morning and then again in the evening."

Roadwork

Through the end of next week, keep your eyes peeled for nighttime lane closures for patching and maintenance on Route 32 westbound from Guilford Road to Volmerhausen Road. The state also will be finishing up maintenance on bridges and overpasses on U.S. 29 between Shaker Drive and Broken Land Parkway, so be alert for lane closures there through the end of this week.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net, send faxes to 410-715-2816 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 30 Corporate Center, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 820, Columbia, 21044. Please include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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