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Avoid Distraction and Anticipate Reaction

There are not many folks that log more miles in Lycoming County and the counties adjacent to us than I do. This is one of the busiest times of year for the streets and highways in our area. With all I have recently witnessed, I think it’s a good time for a public service message about safe driving.

There is no doubt that cell phones and social media are the number one distraction to all motorists. Whether you’re the one on the phone or being affected by it. How many times in the last week have you waited at a red light or stop sign while somebody had their head buried in their phone? Or had someone swerve into your lane while they were mesmerized by that electronification from hell? This is a hazard to everyone on the highways.

Please, during this most busy of year, when there is so much going on, including the kids being out of school, take a break from your smartphone. If you must be on the phone, pull over or use Bluetooth. Do not become so engrossed in a conversation or someone’s post that you forget you’re driving.

Next up, I have bit my tongue during the pandemic understanding the struggles of local businesses. However, as all lights have turned green, I have seen no improvement; the situation has worsened. This being the continued turning of public highways into parking lots by the long-extended drive-through lines.

This is another example of how common sense has fallen prey to selfishness and ignorance. What is really unbelievable is it’s not bad enough on the Golden Strip; there are four cars backed up in the right lane of traffic for drive-thru service, now geniuses are stopping to enter from the left lane heading west. You’ve got to be kidding me. Is that cup of coffee or bag of fast-food worth it? You’re setting yourself up to be rear-ended and driven into the next week. This by someone who’s being put in a bad position and just using East 3rd Street as intended to drive on.

Please think about how many lives are being put in harm’s way each and every day at all the local fast-food entrances up and down the Valley by this action. I can tell you one thing; the lawyers will be lining up when something bad happens. Yes, it’s the driver’s responsibility to control their vehicle; however, wait until the insurance company and ambulance chasers get a hold of this.

It is my thought, that all these restaurants and eateries operating in this manner need to take responsibility for their location of operation. My first suggestion is to open up your door or close your store. By allowing people to walk in, you alleviate the pressure on the drive-thru. If possible, create a new traffic flow or pattern. If needed, hire a security guard to safely monitor and direct traffic at your location.

There should be no vehicles stopped and lined up on a public thoroughfare waiting to enter any said business. There should be one vehicle length at the exit and entrance to provide proper vision for the motorist to safely patronize the location. This also provides safety for any pedestrians walking in front of the businesses.

I can’t believe that anybody would wait in these long lines for anything. However, even more, ridiculous is having the rear end of your car exposed to the traffic. The situation I mentioned earlier was a woman turning left, blocking rush hour traffic, with two unrestrained kids in the back seat! Are you kidding me, lady?

Next up on my hit list of frustration. When did the left-hand lane on 180, Interstate 80, or any major highway become the cruising lane for those traveling below the speed limit?

The left lane, by law, is the passing lane intended for faster-moving traffic. It is the responsibility of the slow driver to yield and return to the right lane when another vehicle is behind you. Your obstinance to move over and allow passing creates a most dangerous situation and potential for multi-vehicle pileups.

This again from the “I can’t believe what I just saw” category; I’m on Interstate 80, and a gentleman in a Prius decides to ride that left lane while several tractor-trailers are behind him. I think the man totally overestimated how Prius versus Peterbilt would end. Just slide over and let them pass.

I guess I’d better stop here, although I didn’t get to the people that believe a yield sign means accelerate into traffic. Or those that think when there is an obstacle in their lane, it is completely acceptable to cross the yellow line into oncoming traffic to avoid it.

I’m sure this has triggered many thoughts in regard to what you have recently witnessed on the highways. Whether it’s distracted, inconsiderate, or just bad driving, there’s a lot of it going on.

It’s imperative to drive conscientiously, expecting the unexpected, which also includes many forms of wildlife crossing the highways. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone never to drink or drive impaired. Please use a designated driver, call a cab, Uber, or someone who will get you home.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we all get where we are going safely.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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