A few days ago, I passed along Bob Benson's comments about speeders. $1
Bob pointed out that on an average in-town trip, speeding saves very little time -- a few minutes at the most.
Why risk the remainder of your life to save 42 seconds or 103 seconds? Even if you win the gamble, what will you do with the seconds you save?
Bob's comments brought two echoes. Martha C. Haber of Arlington agreed with him and added: "Drivers have another bad habit: ignoring 'Stop' signs.
"I suggest that you observe closely what the average driver does when he gets to a 'Stop' sign. Either he totally ignores it, or he decelerates to 25 or 20 miles an hour, or, if you are in luck, you will see one that applies brakes for a second or two so that his car creeps through the intersection.
"Haven't these people learned to read a simple four-letter word? I have never seen the police ticket a driver for this moving violation."
I agree with you, Martha.The verb stop means "to cease moving or to cause movement to cease." It is not a synonym for "slow down."
If the experts who studied the intersection had thought that it would be sufficient for drivers to slow down and yield the right of way there, they'd have ordered a "Yield" sign rather than a "Stop" sign.
A world-class egotist assumes that his one-second appraisal of the danger at the approaching intersection will be superior to the detailed study made by highway engineers before the signs were erected. A rational, reasonable driver obeys the law.
You can judge the percentage of rational and irrational drivers by observing their conduct at your favorite intersection and making a tally of how many fall into each category.
You will find that few motorists stop voluntarily. (Being forced to stop by traffic doesn't count.)
It is ironic that safety-conscious drivers who do stop are in danger of being rammed in the rear by a following driver who does not expect anybody to obey the law and come to a full stop, and as a result must brake sharply to avoid an accident.
Unless a vehicle that poses a clear and present danger of collision is approaching, the average driver will gun right through a stop sign. Some actually relish the opportunity for confrontation. They barrel through a "Stop" sign even if there are vehicles nearby on the main road.
If Martha is a regular reader of this column, she may recall that I need no prodding to write about the common failure to stop at "Stop" signs. It is a dangerous practice, and I have on several occasions expressed my opinion of it.
I have also noted that the legislation that was sold to us "right turn on red after a complete stop" lost the four words of that description the day it was enacted into law. It is now simply "right turn on red." The requirement for a full stop has been consigned to oblivion.
As the turner approaches a red light, he has a fraction of a second to look in several directions to evaluate the risk of collision and to carry out his decision. If he doesn't see a car he considers close enough to be dangerous, he keeps going and makes his turn, sometimes slowing down only enough to avoid tipping over as he goes around the corner. In a 25-mile zone, for example, he might actually slow down to 25. The problem is that a fraction of a second isn't really enough to make a prudent judgment about the risk of collision with other vehicles, and it provides no time whatever to watch out for pedestrians who may be legally attempting to cross the street.
Becki Nichol of Falls Church adds three more types of familiar transgressions to our list: failure to give the required signal before turning, failure to follow proper procedure in changing lanes, and the failure of motorists leaving parking places to follow proper procedure.
All three comments are valid. Motorists who wish to leave a parking space are required to yield to moving traffic and be patient until they can move out safely. Those who are turning are supposed to do more than signal their intentions beforehand. They are supposed to yield the right of way and use caution in completing their turns and other movements. Merely activating your turn signal does not give you the right of way.
Heaven knows why Bob, Martha, Becki and I have a compulsion to hand out this good advice. There appears to be little demand for it.