How many people do you know who would admit to being a lousy driver? One in a hundred?
I’m hard pressed to find one in a hundred who IS a good driver. Next time you’re out there, take a good look around. You’re surrounded by people who say they’re good drivers but haven’t a clue! Before you get all defensive and huffy, let me explain.
My business often takes me through the Virgin River Gorge. I’ve talked to you about “The Gorge” before. That’s what they call that part of Interstate 15 that cuts across the northwest corner of Arizona. The northbound stretch of Interstate 15 takes you to Salt Lake City, while the southbound route takes heads toward Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
It’s a busy place especially on weekends, accommodating about 25,000 vehicles a day including RVs, the big rigs and you name it. And, because it’s filled with mountain grades and perilous curves, it’s a dangerous place. The speed limit is 55 miles per hour from end to end.
I’m going to give you this in plain talk and, because I get so hot about it, I’ll try not to use profanity. There’s something about “The Gorge” that brings out the lunatics. I’ve driven all over the world and have never seen such mindless, asinine and idiotic drivers.
Hordes of them come charging out of the desert from both ends at full throttle and, man, it’s get-the-hell-out-of-my-way-or-I’ll-kill-you time! Day or night, doesn’t matter.
Even some of the truckers — the professionals who are supposed to know better — hurtle their 80,000-pound rigs through the gorge at dangerously high speeds. Good drivers? You tell me.
Add to this virtually perpetual construction. In the gorge there are always bridges to be fixed and maintenance to be done. At times the road goes to one lane in each direction and lane width is reduced to 10 feet. The speed limit is 45.
Go ahead. I dare you. Try driving 45 through these construction zones and the dimwit behind you will get more intimate that your proctologist. Good driver? You tell me.
I watch them race by and have to wonder what’s wrong with these people. Do they not understand what’s going on here or do they just not care? It’s Basic Lawbreaking 101. They tailgate, pass on the wrong side and dangerously dodge from lane to lane and I’m guessing that at least half of those cars have kids in them.
Sometimes I’m tempted to say, “Go for it, dummy,” but then I remember the kids.
Is getting to Cracker Barrel or Denny’s a few minutes, a half hour — or even an hour — sooner worth your life and possibly the lives of others? Is anything worth ending up dead at the bottom of the gorge after an 85-foot drop and maybe taking the family with you? You wouldn’t be the first to do that.
Or turning you and your passengers into hamburger after colliding with the median or missing a curve because you’re driving too fast? You wouldn’t be the first to do that either.
There are a couple of fundamentals it might be helpful for these speed balls to remember:
- The higher the speed, the more fuel efficiency suffers — if money matters
- The higher the speed, the harder it is to scrape you off the windshield — if life matters.
When I was a lad, my dad taught my brothers and me to respect and obey the law. Traffic laws are laws! Good drivers obey traffic laws because they know why we have them.
Stand at any signal-controlled intersection in town and watch people turning left. Half will not signal, one or two will probably go for it after the light changes, and a couple will turn into the wrong lane. Good drivers? No. They’re lawbreakers!
Stand at any corner that has a stop sign. How many drivers do you see actually coming to a full stop? If they do stop, how many bother to stop in the right place? How many people do you know who obey speed limits? How many tailgate? Most know better, but just don’t care. Bad things always happen to the other guy, right?
The drivers in the gorge know better, but they just don’t care. The everyday tailgaters, speeders and stop sign cheaters know better, but they just don’t care.
About 30,000 of us die every year in crashes and nearly 3 million of us go to the hospital with serious injuries. With a simple attitude adjustment we could eliminate most of that carnage. I won’t hold my breath.