Safe driving is always a better alternative to being reckless
Published 5:03 pm Friday, November 4, 2022
Last week, a car passed me while I was driving on Highway 158. That wouldn’t be too noteworthy for me to remember except that they passed me on a double yellow line with rather limited visibility to see if any traffic was oncoming.
Thankfully, the driver made it around both myself and the car in front of me without causing any sort of crash, but watching that car speed away made my skin crawl. It was a reckless move, and I’m just glad that the road wasn’t very busy at the time.
This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed reckless driving like this, of course. Actually, a few days later, a similar thing happened while I was riding with my mom to Roanoke Rapids.
A few years ago, I remember an impatient truck almost rammed into the back of me just as I was about to pass a tractor while driving through Faison’s Old Tavern. I’d just confirmed that it was clear to get around the tractor when the truck behind me decided that they’d waited long enough and passed us both. If I hadn’t caught a glimpse of the speeding blur in my mirror and moved over in time, I probably would have been hit.
And I’ll never forget the driver on my regular commute for my previous job who would pass me and any other cars on the road every single day, regardless of whether there was a double yellow line, a curve, a hill, or even oncoming traffic. It still stresses me out thinking about seeing that car flying towards me in my rear-view mirror, and I don’t even take that route anymore.
These examples don’t even cover the numerous times that cars have pulled out in front of me or drifted into other lanes like they weren’t paying attention or didn’t use their headlights in low-visibility conditions when it’s foggy or rainy. I could go on and on about all sorts of examples of reckless driving.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has stories like these.
Just last week, I read a story on WRAL’s website about Harnett County school buses being outfitted with cameras and license plates readers. After a year since the technology was first added to the district’s 262 buses, they caught thousands of violations and the county has collected “hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.”
According to the article, the specifics of those numbers are almost 700 tickets in the first two months of this current school year, and 1,859 tickets (from 3,366 total violations) during the 2021-22 school year. They’ve collected $620,114 in fines so far.
Harnett County, of course, has a population of over 130,000 people so the numbers aren’t exactly comparable to what they would probably be here locally. But that’s still a staggering number of tickets.
The school district’s Transportation Director, Uriah Parker, said, “We wanted this system not to catch people, [but] to pretty much make people aware of what they are doing. It’s all about the safety of the kids.”
The technology is called BusPatrol, and Harnett County Schools is the only district in North Carolina using it so far. The company claims that 98 percent of drivers do not get a second ticket. The first ticket is enough to get people to be more aware of their driving behavior and to correct it.
State law requires that all vehicles coming in both directions stop for school buses on two-lane roads, even if there is a turn lane. For four-lane roads without a median, the procedure is the same as for two-lane roads. For four-lane roads with a median or center turn lane, only traffic following the bus must stop.
I’m sure everyone reading this column already knows these rules about bus safety, but as evidenced by the stats from Harnett County, apparently there are also plenty of people who could use a reminder.
It seems like a lot of reckless driving – at least what I’ve witnessed – stems from impatience and people in a hurry to arrive at their destination quickly. But how much time are you really saving by unsafely passing slower traffic? There have been multiple times that I’ve even caught up to a car or truck that had sped past me earlier but then got stuck behind more traffic or had to wait at a stoplight or stop sign just up the road.
That moment of gambling with your life and the lives of others on the road didn’t really pay off that much, did it?
Many of us have to spend a lot of time on the road every day, whether that’s commuting to work or school or any number of fun activities and necessary errands. We live in a rural community where everything is spread out, and driving is almost always the only option to getting where you need to go. So we’ve got to share the road with everyone, from little cars and pickup trucks to motorcycles and 18-wheelers and tractors.
But no matter where we’re going or what we’re driving, everyone should make an effort to do so safely.
Safe driving means wearing your seatbelt. It means turning your headlights on in low visibility conditions when it’s hard to see. (Yes, even if you feel like you can see just fine, turn the lights on anyway. It may help other drivers on the road.) Safe driving means using your turn signals to indicate which direction you’re going. It means paying attention when you’re behind the wheel, and not getting distracted by your phone.
And safe driving means driving the speed limit and only passing vehicles when it’s safe to do so.
Who hasn’t been frustrated at least once from getting stuck behind some slow-moving piece of equipment? I get it, because I get annoyed too. But even a small car can become extremely dangerous and deadly if it collides with another vehicle or hits a ditch or a tree or flips into a field.
Please, let’s all be more considerate when we’re on the roads, for our sake and for the sake of other people simply trying to make it to their own destination.
Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-332-7206.