'TOP' MEANS STOP!!
May 1, 2021 | View PDF
I find it funny how no matter where you are, people insist the folks from either their home state are the worst drivers in the world or they like to say all people from another area are the worst. “I’ve driven in New Jersey and man, they are the worst.” A Jersey guy will say, “I’m never going back to the south because those dang southerners can’t drive.” I love to hear the reasoning. I am not immune from this “Robservation” either. I’ve seen some crazy stuff everywhere. Driving down I-81 in Virginia one day, I passed a driver who was actually playing his guitar while driving. No, you cannot make this stuff up. But for me, there is a special place in my heart for Saudi Arabia as by far having the worst drivers in the galaxy. Worse even than the Argonians from star cluster Zeta-2 who are known galaxy wide for their driving abilities.
Much like an artist taking a square lump of clay and fashioning it into a masterful work of art, the Saudis would take driving insanity and mold it into ever-changing, unbelievable madness. It was truly an artform for them. I could go into a lot of detail but that is for another day. Let’s just say that I will bet that most of you have never seen the likes of what I witnessed in my two years there. Now I am not jamming on Saudis because as people, I really like them; a lot. Teaching them to fly jets and living in the Kingdom for two years with my wife was certainly among my career highlights. And on a personal level, by far, most of them were extremely nice and fun to be around. Out on the roads, however, that is another story.
In the two years I was stationed there, I drove myself to work five days per week. In those 450+ times trips, add another 100+ times I drove to play softball, in all of those trips I can honestly say that there were no more than five times where I did not see at least one car accident. Some days I would seriously see 5-10. It was insane. To make matters worse, many of those were pretty horrific. Rollovers, cars basically disintegrated, bodies strewn about. Most folks did not wear seatbelts and the woman carrying the baby in her lap basically turned her kid into a carbon-based air bag. The blood splatters stood as a testimony to this. Yeah, I’m morbid and would look to see. So, I think it is safe to say that in my two years there, I saw the remains of and witnessed over 1,000 car accidents. Off line, ask me about the game red light; green light.
The point I am going to make is this. I am not sure what has happened to Montgomery since COVID but in my mind, we are fast approaching what I witnessed in Saudi Arabia. “Oh, Rob. You are exaggerating!” No, no I’m not. I am not saying we are there yet, not even close but we as a city are moving in that direction. I will tell you why. I believe Montgomery drivers are becoming among the most dangerous, undisciplined and rude drivers I have ever seen. I bet many of you reading this will agree as I go down my list. I see it EVERYDAY so I know darn well many of you do too. Sadly, I am sure this is not just a Montgomery phenomenon but is systemic in the way our country is moving as a whole. But I can only report on what I “Robserve” here.
1. Red Lights: This to me is the biggest of all. The most dangerous practice and trend growing in our city. Every single day when I drive around town, I see people running red lights. I am not talking about the guy or gal who goes through as the light is beginning to change but the person who blows through the light when I have been staring at a green light on my side for 5-10 seconds. Yesterday, 24 April, I drove from my house to Home Depot, East Chase and back home again. In that time, and yes, I counted, I saw eight, count them “8” people who ran the red light. Not a single one of those was close. Not even.
Several weeks ago, I was leaving my neighborhood. As I got my green light to make my left turn onto Vaughn Road, as always, I check left and right. To my right about 100 yards down the street I saw a big, sparkling new orange pickup truck heading my way. As I started to move into the intersection, something told me to take another look. As I did, I saw that this truck was not even going to try to stop. I hit my brakes and come to screeching halt as this slack-jawed, booger-eating moron blows past me doing at least 40-50 mph. He missed me by less than 20 feet. Had I continued into the intersection, I honestly do not think I would be writing this today. We get down to the next red light, and when I pull next to him, he rolls down his window and says something stupid like, “We cool?”
Considering you just almost killed me, no, not really. I really wanted to get out of my car and take a hammer to his shiny new fender but the police don’t take kindly to that so how about just pay frappin’ attention to what you are doing! It shook me up pretty good. When I got home, I just hugged my wife. I was not so much scared as I was thinking about what she would have done had it been the police ringing the doorbell instead of me walking through the door with the pizza I had just bought.
I think I would like to see a study commissioned concerning the apparent growing incidence of colorblindness among the citizens of Montgomery. Maybe the majority of the idiots running red lights are in fact color blind although I seriously doubt it. If so, here is a public service awareness tip. On the traffic light, the red light is either on the top if hanging vertically or on the left when horizontal. Just remember, “TOP MEANS STOP.” I really wish the police would start hammering the heck out of these people. I would love to see fines in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars. “I can’t afford that!!” Good, don’t frappin’ run red lights. It is that simple. BTW, I have seen several times when folks have run the red light and a police officer was sitting right there and did nothing.
2. Cell phones: Put your stinking cell phone down! My gosh, if you cannot physically, mentally or emotionally exist without a stupid cellphone up to your face, you probably need some kind of intervention. “Well, I can multitask.” No, no you cannot. You may think you can and get away with it but while you are operating a multi-ton vehicle traveling 150 – 200 feet per second, you are nothing but a danger to yourself (which I could care less about) and to other people out there who by the thousands are paying the price for your stupidity as a distracted driver. Every day people are dying and being injured by the enlightened multi-taskers in our society. Again, yesterday while I was driving down Vaughn Road toward East Chase, a 25-30-something woman was driving beside me and the entire time from the Bypass to Taylor Road, in a lot of traffic mind you, each time I looked over, she had her stupid cell phone in her hand and I could see her thumb moving at warp speed texting, sexting, Facebooking, who knows. I won’t even talk about the little girl not strapped into in a car seat standing in the seat next to her. Whatever you are doing on your phone cannot be that important. It can’t be. If so, how about pulling off the road and handle your business there.
3. Wrecks. Not every day, at least not yet, but I do see car accidents almost every day now when I am out driving. Shades of Saudi. What is distressing is that I watch the news and witness the carnage first hand and we are seeing cars completely obliterated in accidents within city limits. You might expect to see this level of destruction on the interstate or highway but in town? That means way too many people are running many red lights, driving distracted in addition to driving too darn fast and creating a lot of heartache within the city. It needs to stop. Yesterday, again on the 24th (this day was the Trifecta of road buffoonery), I saw a minor car accident coming home from East Chase on Vaughn Road. Nobody was injured but what I thought was funny is the car that had just rear ended the other car had a bumper sticker warning people not to tailgate. I found the irony of that rather interesting. Yup, a wreck a day. Now all we need is a bunch of sand around us.
4. Speeding: I know we all see it. Just get on the bypass, drive the speed limit and watch the games begin. Cars in and out of lanes, cars going at least 20 mph over the posted speed limit, of course with the obligatory cell phone stuck up to their face, you name it. Race car driver Mario Andretti once said, “Speed doesn’t kill, uncontrolled speed kills.” Too many of our peeps fit into this category.
5. Overall ridiculousness: Before my wife and I left Saudi, we had seen so much highway buffoonery that we just shook our heads. Just ask about the “Saudi Sweep.” Then one day it happened. We saw it. If we hadn’t seen it for ourselves, well okay, we would have still believed it. But we saw a car pass us going the opposite direction and the driver had a sun shade in the windshield with just a minor portion pulled back so he could see where he was going. We knew it was a guy because women were not allowed to drive then. The wife and I looked at each other and collectively said that we could go back to the States now because we had officially seen “everything.” Flash forward 26 years and I was driving here in town and yes, yes, I saw the same thing. A driver had their sunshade up with just a little corner pulled back so the driver could see. I immediately looked around, saw some trees and grass and no overabundance of white Nissan pickup trucks and knew I had not been transported back to Riyadh. Regardless, the sting of stupidity was the same as it was a quarter century ago.
The point to all this is that as a people, citizens of our city, we have to do better. I know with the increased lack of discipline and selfish behavior of many, it is only going to get worse. Everyday, people seem hell-bent on wanting to kill others simply because they are too self-absorbed to do what is right. People seem to have absolutely no idea what operating a car safely actually means. What is worse, they don’t seem to care. Whether running red lights, texting, speeding or whatever it may be, I hope the MPD will start cracking down on these people. This boorish behavior needs to be corrected before more people get hurt or killed.