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By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Column: It can wait

 

August 11, 2021



Although I have quite a few pet peeves, I try not to let many of them overtake my life daily.

If this happened, I would either be so mad I could not function or so crazy that you could probably just put me in a padded cell with a straight jacket and throw away the key.

The one thing that I can’t let slide is when people drive like maniacs on an Interstate or highway, which happens way more often than it should. It does not matter if it is in the middle of winter with a sheet of ice covering the road or in the summer when the roads in the Gallatin Valley are packed with tourists.

Last Monday was a perfect example of my blood boiling from how other people treat the interstate like their own personal racetrack, and this type of behavior needs to stop.

I had just finished building the pages for the paper and needed to make the trip to Bozeman for a few errands. I try to limit my trips to Bozeman because the older I get, the less I like to be around crowds, and every time I need to do something there, I feel like it is getting more and more packed. I can usually only handle that many people when I am on vacation or at a concert.

On my way there, I saw an accident just after Logan put traffic to a standstill in the eastbound lane. When I was on the way home, I told myself that I would get off the Interstate in Manhattan and take the frontage road, but I forgot and ended up waiting quite a while in traffic. Waiting in traffic isn’t a pet peeve for me, it is the people who act like nothing happened that makes steam come out of my ears.

I was horrified at how people started to drive once it was apparent there was an incident, and traffic was now being diverted to one lane. One by one, vehicles came flying by without a care in the world. It is precisely this type of driving that causes a lot of accidents in the first place.

My heart races for the emergency personnel working to secure the scene or clean up, only to have people flying by at the scene accidents.

There seems to be an uptick in accidents this summer in the Gallatin Valley, and before you know it, there will be snow and a whole new set of problems for drivers.

There are a majority of people who follow the rules of the road, drive defensively, pay attention, and use common sense. There is also a small group of people who don’t -- and that makes it bad for everyone.

It is time to start holding those people accountable. They are making things dangerous for people, and this needs to stop.

Probably the most significant issues I see are going way too fast and driving while using a phone.

I can safely say that a lot of good drivers might go a few miles over the speed limit, so I am not referring to them when I mention speeders. It is the people that are going 100 miles per hour no matter what the condition of the road is. I’m sorry, but you don’t need to be going that fast unless you are a law enforcement official or other emergency providers. If you are concerned about getting somewhere quicker, leave a little earlier and quit putting other people in danger.

Then there are the people who use the phone. I am on the interstate and highway a lot, and I see this all the time. A lot of times, a car in front of me goes at sporadic speeds and swerves all over the place. Whenever I can safely pass, they are 99 percent of the time on the phone.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they just had it up to their ear talking, but they are either using it for texting, social media, or somehow feeling that in 2021 they need to put the phone directly to their mouth to talk. Speakerphone and hands-free calling do exist.

I just don’t get what people feel is so crucial that it cannot wait until they get to their destination. Whatever it is, 99.9 percent of the time, It can wait. People are putting others in danger, and it would be pretty challenging to explain causing a major incident because you wanted to “like” a photo on Instagram.

I’m not sure how you get people to quit driving so recklessly, but maybe when you have the opportunity to let them know, try and do so.

This might be a bad idea if you encounter a hothead, so perhaps just start with the people you know who might have these awful driving habits that are putting the rest of us in danger.

Slow down and put the phone down. It can wait.

 

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