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Who has bad driving habits? …

This is the time of the year when motorists don’t want to be messing around with danger on the road. As we all know, there is often ice on our highways, and if we don’t have studded tires, one wrong move and we’re going into the ditch.

There seems to be a lot of people who like to disregard this hazard. Person No. 1 is simply always in a hurry and is going to push the envelope to the limit. Person No. 2 believes he has the best pickup truck on the highway, and he can go through anything at any speed. And person No. 3 seems to be totally naive to what is going on around them. This probably sounds like the highway patrol, but it’s not. I’m just a cautious observer.

For person No. 1, slowing down even 5 miles per hour will make a big difference. Get out of that habit of being in a hurry. Leave the house a few minutes early, and you’ll get there in plenty of time. Besides, if you calculate how long it will take you to get to point B at 75 mph vs. 70 mph, it isn’t that much different, and you can be much safer to yourself and other motorists. To person No. 2, it doesn’t matter how good your truck is. The question is how good are the tires? It doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle you have, if you don’t have proper winter tires, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And to person No. 3, you need to turn on the TV or radio when you wake up in the morning to get the latest weather reports so you will actually know what is going on outside your door. Again, it’s for your safety and other motorists.

Here’s an example of somebody not paying attention. I was on my daily commute between Minot and Kenmare on U.S. Highway 52. Fairly heavy snow was coming down, it was completely dark, there was about 3 inches of snow on the highway, and I was traveling 60 mph in a 65 mph zone.

All of a sudden, somebody came out of nowhere from behind, blew right past me and created quite a snow fog on the way past. I slowed down to about 45 until the snow fog settled and just as that was happening, I saw the car spin around on the highway three times and into the ditch. I kept going because the car didn’t roll over, there was no fire, nor any contact with my vehicle. The temperature hovered at 30 degrees, so the guy wasn’t going to freeze to death.

There are other bad driving habits that motorists seem to have. One of them is with blinkers. And I don’t want to hear, “I was on my cell phone, and both hands were occupied.” That’s a bunch of huey! Is your cell phone call more important than road safety? Are you willing to risk an accident just to finish your telephone conversation?

What really gets me is when I’m waiting to turn right at an intersection or go forward, and I see somebody coming down the road. It’s my responsibility to wait until that vehicle passes. What they will often do is turn right without using a blinker and not even cross into the intersection. In some cases I’ve had to wait a long time thinking the other vehicle is going by, when instead it turns sans blinker.

Another thing is headlights. I don’t know if this is a problem where you live, but people on U.S. 52 seem to have a hard time dimming their lights to oncoming traffic. They probably had the mobile in hand and couldn’t do two things at one time.

I haven’t seen this in many years, but when I was in college in Bismarck I would see women driving down the road on their way to work putting on makeup as they are cruising down a city street. That wasn’t some fluke. I observed this for the better part of two years. I’ve been in Bismarck a lot in the past few years and haven’t noticed it. Thank goodness that bad habit got nipped in the bud.

There are a lot of bad driving habits, but here’s the clincher. I was headed east on N.D. Highway 23 from New Town to Parshall, and a semi-trailer was actually traveling at a reasonable speed. When I passed him, I couldn’t believe what I saw. This guy was traveling down the highway with a load of cargo, and he had a cigarette in one hand and piece of pizza in the other hand and was obviously steering with his leg. Kind of like the guy in the storm, one wrong move and he’s going in the ditch and taking his load of crude oil with him.

There’s no need to try to work around these rules. Just abide by them for the good of everyone on the road. I guess it could be worse. We could be dealing with road rage.

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