Posts Tagged ‘public safety’

I recently had the great pleasure of experiencing the lovely traffic found on the streets of Lubbock on a Saturday afternoon. All the gloriously happy and considerate people working in harmony to get everyone where they needed to go with the utmost efficiency and care…

Ha!

I needed a drink before I made it halfway around the loop. By the time I had navigated the transition from the loop onto the Interstate and back again via my FAVORITE kind of exit (the twirly ones that recommend a top speed of 15 in traffic averaging 87), several smaller streets, one alley, a Sonic drive thru, and a mall parking lot complete with rent-a-cops in golf carts, I needed more than a drink.

Actually, by then I would have welcomed an illegal substance dealer of any kind knocking on my window in the questionable neighborhood I was lost in.

The apartments and dorms of Lubbock must have been eerily quiet that day, because I am sure that the entire population of the city was out on the roads at their un-medicated or overly altered best. I am quite sure they were all stalking my poor countrified chevy…

My ultimate destination for the day was a Jackyl concert in the Depot District. Elbow to elbow with the tattooed and pierced rockers of Lubbock, singing the Secret of the Bottle at the top of our lungs, thinking that THESE people are so much friendlier than the ones out on the roads.

In fact, it is usually the tattooed, the bikers and truckers, the punks with Mohawks, and anyone with unnaturally streaked hair and heavy eyeliner who are the first to be kind to a stranger in need. Before you judge, find out who is behind the decoration…they might surprise you.

But I digress….as I have a tendency to do…

So anyway, traffic…

I encountered all the different kinds of drivers there are in a city like that…in one afternoon. It was actually quite a good learning experience. If you are ever conned into repeating my mistake on a weekend afternoon in the summer when all the crazies are out to play, here are some of the fellow drivers you should really watch out for…

Sunday Cruisers:

These people are out to see the sights, smell the smells, and annoy as many fellow motorists as possible. They weave gently from side to side within (somewhat) the confines of their lane, and turn their blinker on roughly a half mile from where they plan to actually turn.

Speed limits are irrelevant to Sunday Cruisers, as they rarely travel over about 35 mph. More than likely the car you’re following at a painfully tedious pace is an aged Buick…baby blue or beige. Station wagons with fake wood panels are also usually driven by a Sunday Cruiser.

Garage sales, fruit stands, children selling lemonade, and flea markets are valid excuses for drivers in this category to suddenly brake in the middle of the road with gleeful oblivion. For these, the turn signal is often a distant memory…and you will be lucky if their creeping ride has properly working brake lights.

Pappy:

Pappy is very nearly a Sunday cruiser, only the Buicks and station wagons are not popular here. A Ford or Chevy truck with more rust than paint is the giveaway in this category.

Instead of rarely driving faster than 35 mph, these drivers have a steady pace of 55 mph. Whether the speed limit is 15 or 75, urban or rural, these old pickup trucks have one constant pace, and they will not deviate.

They are often found congregating at Dairy Queens, discussing in minute detail the rainfall that Texas has experienced over the past 40 or 50 years.

Soccer Moms:

These women are found cruising the streets in minivans and obnoxiously large SUV’s, usually sporting small yellow window signs proclaiming “Baby on Board” or “My kid is an Honor Student.” For some reason, fake bullet holes are popular, as are stickers on the back windows with a name followed by a football, basketball, or cheerleader symbol. In fact, you can usually look at a soccer mom’s car and immediately know the names and gender of the children, the sports they play, the GPA of the older ones, and where they are bound for college.

Soccer Moms are actually pretty good drivers most of the time. They are typically courteous, obey traffic laws, and try to maintain the safety bubble of their “precious cargo” drooling and screeching in the backseat. They are determined to be a role model for all the young teenage drivers out there.

However, when a Soccer Mom’s driving goes bad, it goes very, very bad. These women are hyped up on lattes and metabolism pills and vitamin B…they are jumpy and will freak out about any sudden movements (or honks). There is also the chance you’ll happen to catch one at a red light about the same time a toddler tosses a Sippy cup across the car, resulting in a distracting hissy fit as Mom gropes around behind her, yells at the child, and tries to navigate to the pool at the same time.

Another hazard that Soccer Moms present to the driving world is that they will slam on the brakes for ANYthing that might decide to cross the road, whether that be a dog, cat, child, or field mouse. They are sometimes found on the road crying hysterically because they didn’t miss the sparrow that swooped across her path at the wrong moment. The best thing you can do for these women in this situation is offer to pick the feathers out of her grill.

GPS Gadget Guys:

These guys are possibly the most erratic and annoying out there. Until someone perfects the GPS navigational systems of the modern age, these well-meaning technologically obsessed individuals will follow the tinny voices in their dashboards into lake bottoms, ghost towns, and dead ends with relentless determination.

If a GPS unit suddenly decides the driver should “turn left,” he will…immediately and with no warning, sometimes from the far right lane. He is often so excited about the sudden change of direction that a turn signal is the last thing on his mind.

GPS Gadget Guys are often found sitting at a busy intersection, oblivious to the four cycles of green lights that have passed and the impatient honking of those around him, while he pushes buttons on his GPS or waits for the machine to “recalculate.”

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a specific “type” of car these guys are found driving…anything built after 2003 seems to be fair game.

Corporate Asses Who OWN the Roads:

Ugh…my least favorite. These are the guys who think they are God’s gift to women and the rest of the world. They hate animals, “lesser” people, and imperfections in people. They have no patience for the small flaws that make us all human, and are rude to the doormen, maids, and grocery store clerks who cross into their privileged lives.

These guys drive BMW’s, Mercedes, and the occasional Lexus…some of the more insufferable will be spotted in a Hummer or a lifted 4×4 that’s never seen mud, because they think somehow it makes us all think they have a bigger…ahem, never mind.

The “Asses” are aggressive drivers that will cut you off, then flip you off for daring to be in their way. They are usually found with a cell phone surgically attached to their ear, and everything in their car is shiny, loud, or expensive.

Watch for vanity license plates that read: “GR8!!”  “HOT STUF”  “STUD MFN”  “LADYS MN”  or  “BG DADY”

Student Drivers:

By student drivers, I am not just referring to the actual students in the school owned sedans with “Student Driver” emblazoned in red across the entire vehicle. These are actually very safe…they will be creeping along with their knowledgeable teacher in the passenger seat, obeying EVERY law to the letter, trying desperately to drive perfectly. Not really dangerous.

No, the student drivers to worry about are the ones who just passed their tests and are carrying their shiny new driver’s license in their wallets like a medal of honor. These are the kids with daddy’s insurance, momma’s car, and the undeniable taste of freedom.

These young drivers don’t mean to be a menace, but they freeze up at the slightest thing, park crooked in parking lots, and cannot parallel park to save their lives. They will turn on the blinker a mile before turning, and are often found parked on the side of the road, wide-eyed or sobbing with fear.

Daddy’s Little Princesses:

Ohhhhh, but these girls are highly entertaining. They go into hysterics that provide endless amusement when you catch them outside their 16th birthday convertibles and SUV’s. Their cars are usually pink or red, and covered in cutesy bumper stickers that say “Daddy’s Girl” or “Princess.” Vanity license plates in the same taste are common.

One of the problems these girls have when driving is that they often have so much crap hanging from the rearview mirror that they have blocked out a third of their view of what’s in front of them. They also tend to attempt the fine art of simultaneously driving, texting, and applying mascara.

These girls don’t react well to being honked at, they will startle and immediately drive off the shoulder, slam on the brakes, and sob hysterically.

 

Well, I am quite sure I have left out plenty of driver’s from this list, but these are the most dangerous. They are the ones who have made me swear off going back to Lubbock anytime soon on a weekend or during rush hour. I will stick to my small town full of nothing but Sunday Cruisers. They’re just as annoying here, but they are predictable, as they travel the same routes at the same time and same speed every day.

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This is something I wrote a while back in response to a “letter to editor” in a local newspaper…

The writer was evidently quite offended that a police officer dared to turn on lights and sirens as he responded to an emergency call.

Rumor has it he drove *gasp* 45 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone!


Wow…I wasn’t aware Wyatt Earp drove a truck. Thanks for the enlightenment. I’ll never watch Tombstone with the same level of respect…

Just for those who don’t know…

Police officers go through extensive training behind the wheel. Years of driving under conditions that would have most people spinning off the road. They are perfectly capable of handling the speeds that their job sometimes requires. If you have the bad luck not to notice the flashing lights and the blaring sirens that accompany an emergency vehicle, rest assured that emergency responder is perfectly capable of dodging you when you step out in front of him. They really do have to prove their driving skills at high speeds before someone “pins a badge” on them.

If you know of a police officer that runs Code 3 (this is the term for an emergency response with urgency, lights, and sirens) to catch a person going 3 mph over the speed limit, then you must not be from here, because the officers here won’t stop you for that violation. They have bigger fish to fry.

Consider this. You state the “few seconds” it would cost to slow down to 35 mph will not make a difference. You are mistaken, it would take more than a few extra seconds to reduce speed, meander through town, and build back to a speed suitable for an emergency. It would cost at least a couple minutes or more.
Now, imagine a child being beaten by an abusive adult waiting desperately for someone to save her. What about the person hiding in a closet from an unhinged ex tearing though the house with a gun? Or the mother whose child has been abducted and know precious seconds are wasting away while that child is taken further and further away?
These things happen in small towns, too. You don’t hear about every tragedy an officer faces, so the illusion of the safe little community remains intact.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the officer. If he makes it on time, he might save a life. He might save a beaten child in time to avoid a hospital stay or a broken bone. He might get a baby back to his mother. He might stop a psychopath from firing the gun he is waving at the scared woman who called 911. If someone is already hurt, he could get there in time to put pressure on a wound before someone bleeds to death. Depending on the location of the injury, that can take seconds.

The people who read the local news surely read about a suicide attempt nearby. A person was saved literally by mere seconds, and ONLY because the officers that responded turned on their lights, their sirens, and drove as they were trained to.

You’re right, the police officer could take his time. He could give you those extra couple of minutes to satisfy your sense of propriety. He could ignore his training and his call of duty.
I can tell you this though…when it’s “time to bring out the big guns” (your words, not mine), that is not an officer I would vote for. I think I would vote for the one who will show up quickly when I call 911.
Let’s just hope you’re never in a terrible situation waiting desperately for someone to come to your aid…begging the 911 operator to “tell them to hurry”…praying help arrives in time. Let’s hope if you ever are in that position, that the officer turns on his lights and drives a little more than 30mph.