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Stay in Your Lane

As I headed down the beltway toward Montoursville, right where cars merge on from the Faxon on ramp, there was no doubt in my mind what was about to happen. I was in the right lane with a tractor-trailer to my left, as a car traveling at a high rate of speed was about to merge onto 180. There was no place for me to go and there was no way he was going to yield.

A younger me might have held my ground like a NASCAR driver and forced him to pass me to the right on the berm —maybe even speeding up and hugging the right white line so he had to get over even farther toward the guardrail. The older me did the right thing — decelerating quickly and allowing him to merge in ahead of me. I can’t say I’ve reached the point where I didn’t mutter a few words. And in case you’re wondering, there was no One Finger All-American Salute involved.

As he sped off, weaving lane to lane, my only hope was the officer that often sits on that stretch before Walmart got him! I’m sure as you’re reading this, you’re thinking about a driving incident you’ve recently encountered. As I later sat down to pen my article, I thought it would be a good focal point for this time of year. The summer travel season has arrived across our Nation, and I have many thoughts to share with you. A couple of them are guaranteed to happen every year, some are a sign of the current times we are living in. All can definitely affect your drive to work or that much anticipated vacation.

I will begin with the fleecing of America that takes place every time we fuel up a car, only now there’s a little extra twist. We have been brainwashed over the years to believe the price of gas just naturally goes up this time of year. The only reason the price of gas goes up is because Americans drive more in the summer, and the big oil companies take advantage of this fact. I know they always have a reason to justify it with the help of the national media, Wall Street, and even our federal government, but I believe the truth is just simply corporate greed and how it benefits all the above mentioned.

As far as the twist I was talking about, gas prices are already more than we should be paying, and American wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living and traveling on any level. So, this equates to this year’s transportation taking a little bigger bite out of your wallet. Not to mention it’s harder than ever to save for that vacation because of the effects of inflation on everything Americans purchase, from groceries to housing to the insurance to protect whatever they have or the vehicles that enable them to travel. Let’s not forget the climbing cost of health care and medication.

The bottom line is everything has increased, and we’re not the federal government, who can just print more money. Americans put more on their charge cards than ever before, and the interest rates charged by financial institutions also drain opportunities to save for travel.

Moving right along with what always goes hand-in-hand with summer driving is construction — and there seems to be more of that going on at every turn. This also means you must allow a little extra time and patience for travel. Please keep your eyes on the road and away from distractions. I will stay away from why our bridges and roads have gotten in such bad shape in Pennsylvania. We have paid some of the highest fuel taxes in the Nation for decades. Tolls are nothing new to our state and are only going up. And our state has benefited from natural gas money intended for maintaining the roadways. Something tells me this money didn’t end up where it was supposed to. I will stop there and get back to all the construction zones.

Please give our highway workers a break; they have a tough job to do in a dangerous work environment. You see the drivers they must deal with every day; some make the Walmart parking lot a hazardous situation. At the end of the day, they just want to get into their vehicle and drive home safely. As you approach a work area, drive like one of your family members or friends has that assignment for the day.

I will finish up this week with please pay close attention to how you’re driving and what is going on around you as you’re sharing the road — don’t pass the buck. There’s a lot going on this time of year, none of which really matters if you don’t arrive there safely. When a near miss occurs, please give a wave that you’re sorry or one of understanding.

Be grateful that an accident did not occur and avoid escalating the situation. Let’s all be safe out there.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb