Friday, July 21, 2017

Crash Course

The next time you are out and about, check out how many vehicles you see with some sort of collision damage.  One of those vehicles right now belongs to my wife, who collided last week with a young woman that decided not to check for cross traffic along a street where she had a yield sign--and my wife had the right of way.  After that crash, I started taking a look at other cars on the road and I notice a lot of crumpled side panels and cracked or missing bumpers.

I used to think that those social media posts ranking "Wisconsin drivers among the worst in the country" were just clickbait--because anytime I saw someone going 95-miles an hour on I-41 or passing an entire line of cars in a no passing zone on the way up north, they had an Illinois license plate.  And I thought that just cutting someone off because you wanted into their lane without even signaling was just an East Coast thing.  But just a week of very close observation of our local driving habits shows that we suck just as bad as our metropolitan counterparts.

We had some construction in front of the Radio Ranch here on South Washburn this week that closed the right-hand lane.  Despite signs warning of the closure well down the block, I've seen at least three instances of drivers in that lane swerving feet in front of the cones and forcing vehicles in the left lane to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.  What has made it particularly dangerous is that you have people gunning it out of Walmart less than a hundred feet from the construction zone.

And speaking of parking lots, I saw the Cart Guy at Festival have to jump out of the way of a driver that was backing out of a parking spot without looking behind them to see if it was safe to go.  I've also noticed that we have become less courteous of allowing people to walk to and from stores in those crosswalk areas--choosing instead to gun it through before they can set foot into the painted area.  This is especially true at the southside Pick n Save--where drivers give you dirty looks as they nearly run you over.

We drivers aren't necessarily all to blame for the increase in crashes.  The increase of speed limits on all interstates and expressways are giving aging drivers less time to react to unexpected situations.  And the instance of placing roundabouts at every intersection just encourages more confusion and collisions.  My wife's crash was due to Oshkosh's widespread use of yield signs on side streets--rather than stop signs that force someone to at least take a look in both directions before crossing.  And carmakers are colluding to distract us even more behind the wheel with internet connection on dashboard screens and providing false security with backup cameras, lane deviation warnings and self-breaking systems that some people think will avoid crashes all by themselves.

And if you think I'm just over-stating how bad things have been out there this summer, call up one of the auto body shops in town and ask how long it would take to get a repair done.  My wife found six to eight weeks--because those guys can't keep up with all of the bad driving.

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