There is just one thing that sends my otherwise kind, patient and fun-loving husband over the edge. Bad drivers. Incompetent drivers have driven him to fantasize for years about arming all motorists with paintball guns to be used judiciously to “mark” the inept. His theory is that once a car is more than 50 percent covered in little round paint blasts, the bungling driver’s license should be revoked. Given enough time, only the truly gifted drivers will remain and all traffic congestion in the metro Atlanta area resolved.
I’m coming around to this idea after spending the last six months driving back and forth to Athens on Hwy. 316.
Aside from workforce commuters, one significant challenge in and around 316 are youthful drivers. Georgia Gwinnett College, Gwinnett Tech and UGA students, many under the age of 23-24, inevitably make up some portion of this traffic load.
I’m sure, because I’ve asked, these kids were trained never to pass a large truck on the right. It may not be intuitive for them to conclude they should drive in the right-hand lane unless passing another vehicle. Please tell them.
Throw in texting and driving and you have a really dangerous traffic flow. I’ve watched cars swerve into neighboring lanes, run off into the median and sit at traffic lights much longer than necessary simply inviting someone to rear end them. Every time I venture to pass these drivers, they have phone in hand and eyes off the road.
According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were 23,992 auto accidents in Gwinnett during 2010. Close to half of those involved drivers under the age of 24. Fifty-seven resulted in fatalities.
I’ll be the first to admit I check my phone at long traffic lights, and I’m certain I am distracted by a phone call or two on occasion. I pretend, as an experienced driver, I know what I’m doing and can manage the risk.
But since my husband’s “Paintball Bad Driver Eradication” system isn’t likely to take off, I’m going to be a little more mindful of distractions and remind the young adult drivers in my house to take defensive driving seriously. Of course I’ve told them not to text and drive. Certainly told them not to drink and drive.
But have I told them to drive in the right-hand lane except when needing to pass? Have I warned them to give tractor-trailers extra room? Have I reminded them lately how devastated I would be to lose them in a senseless, avoidable accident? Some things need a reminder.
In the mean time, please ignore any multi-colored paint spots on my bumper.
Karen Huppertz has lived in Gwinnett County for 14 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.