Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Alltel & Idiot Cocktail

We must be spending too much time on the road. In four days we’ve experienced three close calls, none of them our “fault.” The first two happened in the exact same spot on Tanque Verde Road, and at the exact same time of day. (We had back-to-back noon soccer games in Phoenix on both Saturday and Sunday.)

Heading out of town (going west) there’s a spot where drivers from Wrightstown Road merge from the left into three lanes of Tanque Verde Road. The proper way to merge is to stay in the far left lane prior to moving over to the middle or right lane. Right? Well,
Idiot #1 never bothered to look if a car—OUR car—was in the middle lane, and as soon as his front tires hit TVR, he decided the middle place was the place he wanted to be. I sucked breath while Mike slammed breaks and Accident #1 didn’t happen. Idiot #2 did the same thing on Sunday morning, but it wasn’t as dramatic a merge move as Idiot #1, which means less swerving and a shorter horn blast coming from our car. Given the previous day’s experience, this time we were more prepared. Even though we avoided Accident #2, we were incredulous about the recurring events.

Hmmmmmmm . . . perhaps there’s a need for a YIELD sign on Wrightstown Road for drivers merging onto Tanque Verde Road? How about a bright YELLOW banner reading: STAY IN THE LEFT LANE IDIOT!

We were in the car for only a few miles today and had another close call. The kids were ready this morning in time to take the bus, but our teenager snubbed the idea. “I HATE the bus,” she announced. Whatever. She liked it last week. And trust me, she’ll like it again this week because unless we’re running late in the morning, there’s really no excuse to pass up a free ride to school. Nevertheless, it’s not a long trip to the schools and because raising our kids is our main job while we’re in Tucson, we’re happy to spend this time with them.

We dropped off
Kid #1 at the junior high and made our way with Kid #2 to the elementary school. These are not usually high-density roads but during the before-the-bell hours, minivans and SUVs abound. We recognize many drivers and often wave to one another by holding up cups of coffee and offering “have-a-nice-day” smiles.

We didn’t know the SUV driver at the corner of Ft. Lowell and Melpomene with whom we nearly had a close encounter.

The accident would have been our responsibility if it had happened, but it wouldn’t have been our fault. Why? Grateful thanks to quick reflexes that it didn’t, and grateful thanks for the reminder that so many drivers are IDIOTS and to always remember the “Defensive Driver” chapter in our Driver’s Ed courses. So, I’ll call the driver of the big honkin SUV
Idiot #3. If our vehicles had kissed, front end to front end, we would have told about how she seduced us into making that left turn in front of her.

Idiot #3 had her right turn signal flashing and was driving slowly enough to appear as though she actually meant to make a right turn onto the street where we sat at the STOP sign. Obviously because she didn’t turn, she either mistakenly flipped on the signal or more likely, she FORGOT to turn it off because she was ON THE PHONE!

Recently there was a study conducted at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City comparing drunk drivers to those who drive while using their cellular phones. The conclusion states: "... the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk."

I'm guilty of driving under the influence of cell phone but I'm not one of those babes who has a phone glued to her ear every driving minute. We see some drivers on our morning commute who, without fail, have one hand on the steering wheel and one hand to an ear. Needless to say, they're NOT waving to us. They're not looking at us. They're not even considering us! I wonder, are they conducting business? Gossiping with their friends? Going over last minute history notes before their kids' first hour exams?

What I know for sure is they're causing a lot of accidents and near accidents. And if this accident had happened, I'm sure we'd be paying for a lot more than Idiot #3's phone bill. My husband, our driver, won’t soon take a turn signal for granted again. 

By the way, Idiot #3 definitely saw us, and boy did she give us a look! When I was done sucking in my breath and wiping spilled coffee off my jeans, I looked to the right to see the taillights ambling to the west, and noticed she had immediately turned off her signal. I imagine her thought was: “Whoops.” And I imagine her Alltel conversation was: “Some Idiot in a Mercedes nearly slammed into me.” (That, by the way, would make us Idiot #4.)

Tomorrow, the kids are definitely taking the bus.

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