Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rant #1,278: Driving Home a Point

I had my major car accident on May 10 of this year, where my car was totaled by a kid driving another car who, evidently, never saw me when he plowed into me.

My family and I are lucky to be alive.

I think of that day--really that moment--often, when I am driving and sometimes when I'm not even behind the wheel.

It was life changing, to say the least.

Even though I was not even a scintilla at fault during this episode, have my own personal driving habits changed at all as a result in being in such a horrific accident?


I can be as aggressive on the road as the next guy, but when cars are coming out of corners, like that kid did to me, I am extra cautious.

I have also been one to make full stops at Stop signs, which as you know, for some people, is an amazing revelation.

Yes, you have to make full stops at Stop signs.

I have always done this, whether I am in a rush or just out for a casual drive.

With the summer winding down, I have witnessed, up close and personal, how this really is something out of the ordinary for many drivers.

I guess it is hard to get the concept that a Stop sign is placed for the driver to Stop, not to ignore and not to go right through.

And these incidents have happened on the very block I live on, so they happened literally, steps away from my home.

It has almost been a tradition to go through the Stop sign on my block. Over the nearly 40 years I have been driving--November is my anniversary--I have seen so many things happen at that Stop sign, because people simply do not make full stops at it.

Crashes, near crashes, people nearly being run over ... you can't imagine the havoc the presence of that sign causes for some people, simply because they do not understand what to do at a Stop sign.

Anyway, last week, I made the turn from Merrick Road--one of the busiest roads on Long Island--into the block that connects to mine. As I was making the turn, I noticed that another car also made the turn just about concurrently with mine, but I also noticed that he was tailgating me pretty badly.

I made the full stop at the Stop sign, which obviously infuriated him.

He literally was on my bumper, and went through the sign when I turned, nearly hitting me in the back.

I stopped my car after making the turn, because I was getting pretty angry myself.

Why is this guy not only tailgating me, but going through the Stop sign to boot?

I stopped momentarily, peered behind me--the guy knew exactly what I was doing, and that it was directed at him, and I then quickly proceeded to turn into my driveway.

The guy stops his car, as if he were looking for a confrontation.

I simply stayed in the driveway until he left. There was no way I was going to get into it with a crazy driver in a mad rush.

He drove away, and that was that.

Yesterday, again at the same point on Merrick Road, it was ultra busy, with cars coming from all directions.

The car in front of me had to wait, admittedly, an extra long time to turn into the connecting block to mine, but I, like others behind me, waited patiently for him to make the turn.

He finally did, but when it was my turn, again, it was ultra busy, and we had to wait.

There was a car behind me, and then a motorcycle.

Finally, I made my turn when the path was clear, and drove up to that Stop sign, ready to make the right turn onto my block.

Well, little did I realize that the motorcycle had sped up, and was on my tail, and he, too, did not like that I made a full stop at the Stop sign.

He proceeded to go on my left, passing me, and sped through the sign without stopping, waving his arms as if to say, "Let's speed it up here. You are holding me up."

You know what? Tough tomatoes, as they say.

I have always stopped at Stop signs, the accident hasn't stopped that practice, and I will continue to stop at Stop signs until I cannot drive anymore.

Years ago, when I was a teenager, I actually got a ticket for going through a Stop sign.

The problem was, I never went through it.

A cop was firmly placed on a street, and I was completely bemused that he stopped me and gave me a ticket, because I never went through the sign.

I actually stopped--and I mean a full stop--and went on, only to be given a ticket for something I didn't do.

I protested the ticket, went to traffic court, and found out from others that the cop was simply giving tickets out randomly that day to just about anyone who passed that particular street and where he was parked.

Others were protesting for the same reason, I found out, and I pleaded guilty to an "equipment violation," paid $15, had no points taken off my license, and was on my merry way.

I should have held out to pay nothing, because I did nothing wrong, but I gave in and paid that slight fine.

The cop should have been ticketed himself for his actions.

Anyway, if you see me on the road, just understand that I stop--make full stops--at all Stop signs, so just bide your time. You will get to your destination, even if I am holding you up by following the law.

Let me drive that point home to you.

Anyway, I have to take the day off tomorrow for a private matter, so I will next see you again on Friday.

Speak to you then.

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