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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News

 

Lawful motorists on defense

Posted 9/20/16 (Tue)

Has anyone noticed, or become angry when people in traffic refuse to use their blinkers when making a turn?

I used to tease my sister, who lives in Jamestown, you didn’t have to use your blinkers anymore because you were in Jamestown because nobody else did.

Now, it’s all over the place. You can go just about anywhere and meet someone on the road who chooses not to use a blinker when making a turn.

What is really infuriating is when you see a car coming toward an intersection and you are waiting for it to pass so you can proceed into the intersection. Then, the driver decides to make a right turn without a blinker, as you just sat there for up to a minute waiting for them to pass you.

Here’s another that I see a lot and it’s gotten to a point that I’ve formed my own kind of retaliation.

If I have to make a left turn at an intersection, as I approach it, I turn on my left blinker and wait for the rest of the traffic to pass. Consequently one of the vehicles sits at the intersection and waits. So I sit at the intersection and wait, because isn’t it customary, and lawful, to let traffic pass before you make a left turn?

Unfortunately, these people aren’t proceeding through the intersection, they’re wanting to turn left or go forward, but no blinker is displayed.

There have been a couple of times where the drivers have become angry with me because I waited. So am I supposed to assume that someone is going to turn left or right when they don’t turn on their blinker? Can you imagine what kind of chaos that could create?

Of course, when people are stopped for something like this or you confront someone regarding it, they will most often tell you that they didn’t have that hand free because they were on the cell phone.

The other lame excuse is that the blinker doesn’t work.

OK, that may sometimes be the case, but you have to admit, it would be rare.

Maybe auto manufacturers should just eliminate blinkers since nobody uses them anyway. That would bring the cost of a new vehicle down a little bit.

I’ve even seen U.S. government vehicles, including HUMVEES, not using their blinkers.

On the other side of the coin, over-the-road truck drivers always use their blinkers when turning, when changing lanes and starting out from a stopped position, if it’s a turn their making.

Apparently, there’s no problem with one hand occupied by a cell phone there.

What an excuse that is. I’ll bet the cops just love hearing that one because in some places cell phone use while driving is now illegal.

And to take it a step further, the province of Saskatchewan is exploring making cell phone use while driving, an equivalent offense of DUI, a felony offense.

In the past three years, Saskatchewan has had nearly 2,000 accidents and a handful of fatalities because of cell phone use and with just over 1 million population, that’s pretty disturbing.

North Dakota has a lesser population, of course, but crunch the law of averages and you’ll find it’s happening here more than the general public is aware of.

What could be so important on a telephone conversation that a driver would risk higher insurance rates or even be responsible for someone’s death because of a distraction from the use of a mobile telephone?

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, not even out on the sparse expanse of the North Dakota prairie.

I’ve sometimes driven as far as 50 miles without seeing another vehicle, which some would think would be great for cell phone use.

However, what they don’t realize is that any number of factors could result; a deer comes out of the ditch, there’s a piece of wood on the road with nails in it, a cinder block falls off the back of a truck hauling debris and hits your windshield, you meet a combine at the crest of a hill or an emergency vehicle is barreling through an intersection that you don’t see and get T-boned.

What’s it going to take to get motorists to change this behavior? Because it has to change or innocent people will become fatalities, and that’s already bad enough with drinking and driving.

Would you support a ban on cell phone use while driving? Public opinion is the magic piece to this puzzle since a reporter’s testimony isn’t going to change the law.

But it should be changed. Cell phone use while driving is nothing more than a powder keg waiting to explode.