Too many bad drivers

My comments this week about bad school bus drivers and my encounter with drivers who don't use their lights in rain and fog brought a flood of email and phone calls from concerned parents and others who have encountered too much danger on the road.

It rained most of Thursday and I did a count of cars driving up Main Street towards the stop light at the Intersection of U.S. 221 and Virginia Route 8.  In a 15-minute period, I counted 49 cars traveling both directions in the rain. Of those 49, 13 had their lights on. The rest drove without lights in violation of the Virginia law that requires lights be turned on when using windshield wipers.

In that same period, two cars drove the wrong way on the one-way street between the County Courthouse and the Bank of Floyd and four went against the one-way arrows in the Village Green parking lot. Seventeen cars didn't use a directional signal when turning and 19 stopped well beyond the lines painted on the street to keep traffic back a safe distance so large trucks can make the turn at the stop light.

I counted 27 drivers talking on their cell phones while driving. Two women applied lipstick and four men typed on their Blackberries.

Jeff Blakley, a newcomer to Floyd County, says he has noticed a significant number of drivers don't use seatbelts.

He wonders: "What's up with that?"

Good question.

After 23 years of living in the Washington, DC, area, where traffic is among the worst in the nation and four years back here, I believe Floyd County has too many bad drivers who don't belong on the road. For a county our size, we have too many single-vehicle wrecks involving cars that run off the road because drivers misjudge turns or get distracted by trying to dial a cell phone or fiddle with the radio.  We have a high rate of head-on accidents caused by drivers who stray over the center line and a day spent in General District Court on Thursday shows too many local drivers drive too damn fast.

My comments this week about bad school bus drivers and my encounter with drivers who don’t use their lights in rain and fog brought a flood of email and phone calls from concerned parents and others who have encountered too much danger on the road.

It rained most of Thursday and I did a count of cars driving up Main Street towards the stop light at the Intersection of U.S. 221 and Virginia Route 8.  In a 15-minute period, I counted 49 cars traveling both directions in the rain. Of those 49, 13 had their lights on. The rest drove without lights in violation of the Virginia law that requires lights be turned on when using windshield wipers.

In that same period, two cars drove the wrong way on the one-way street between the County Courthouse and the Bank of Floyd and four went against the one-way arrows in the Village Green parking lot. Seventeen cars didn’t use a directional signal when turning and 19 stopped well beyond the lines painted on the street to keep traffic back a safe distance so large trucks can make the turn at the stop light.

I counted 27 drivers talking on their cell phones while driving. Two women applied lipstick and four men typed on their Blackberries.

Jeff Blakley, a newcomer to Floyd County, says he has noticed a significant number of drivers don’t use seatbelts.

He wonders: "What’s up with that?"

Good question.

After 23 years of living in the Washington, DC, area, where traffic is among the worst in the nation and four years back here, I believe Floyd County has too many bad drivers who don’t belong on the road. For a county our size, we have too many single-vehicle wrecks involving cars that run off the road because drivers misjudge turns or get distracted by trying to dial a cell phone or fiddle with the radio.  We have a high rate of head-on accidents caused by drivers who stray over the center line and a day spent in General District Court on Thursday shows too many local drivers drive too damn fast.

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13 Responses

  1. As I came home from work yesterday afternoon, I saw 2 cars without headlights coming down Bent Mountain, which was extremely foggy & rainy. Not only is it illegal, but it’s just plain stupid. Let them jeopardize their own lives, but not the lives of others!

  2. How many accidents because drivers misjudged the curve?
    How many accidents because the driver was trying to dial on the ‘phone?
    How many accidents attributable to drivers tuning the radio?
    The rate of accidents caused by drivers straying over the center line is high as compared to which other locality/localities?

  3. Ok thanks for the clarification Doug. Maybe this highlights why vehicles should have an automatic on/off for all lights, dash and exterior, when the ignition is turned to the on position with the engine running. Both of my in-laws cars have that option (Chevy Malibu and Subaru Outback), so why could that not be done for all new cars? That way it would be better than the daytime running lights, and would also not kill batteries because the lights would automatically turn off as well. Just a thought. Hear that Detroit?

  4. As someone who both drives cars (a Wrangler and an SUV) and rides motorcycles, I believe failure to use headlights in poor visibility situations is one of the major failings of drivers in our area (and other areas as well).  I run with the driving lights on in my Wranger during the day in both clear conditions and when visibility is poor and my motorcycle has both a headlight and driving lights that are on at all times.

    When I’m covering cases in general district court in Floyd, I hear a lot of testimony about what causes accidents and in cases where a car pulls out in front of another one, the most common complaint is "I didn’t see the other car coming."

  5. Since we’re griping….two things really bother me on the road, that I see in Floyd more than any place I’ve ever lived:

    When someone is stopped to turn LEFT the cars behind them pass them on the RIGHT. I believe this is illegal and I KNOW it is dangerous. In the town of Floyd it is a common practice.

    The other one is when driving at night I am often followed by big trucks with really blinding bright lights. I have not been able to figure out what the deal is with that. I have pulled over so they can pass me…and I get the feeling that that is what it’s about…big truck…machismo.

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