"Drivers Need To Pay Attention"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Monday, September 22, 2014

Sheriff Kelly Hanson’s directives given in an article that appeared in the Tribune last week need to be heeded. He is correct that it’s time to set up additional road patrols to watch for offenders, especially those failing to obey stop signs.

I drove to Bad Axe from Port Austin and back last week. While making the trip, my wife and I discussed the issue the sheriff had introduced about stop signs being ignored. We made note of how few vehicles came to complete stops at stop signs. The signs don’t say, “almost stop.” Nor do they say, “slow to a rolling stop.” That is what we observed, repeatedly, on side roads that cross M-53. The number of drivers that failed to come to a complete stop outnumbered those that completely stopped by 2 to 1. Many made a rolling stop, just enough to let us pass on the highway, and then swung right in behind us.

At another intersection a car did stop but actually pulled right out in front of me. I had to brake hard to avoid hitting their vehicle. When I started my return trip to Port Austin, a woman driver, in a gray jeep whipped out of a side street, turned right in front of me and was headed toward me in my lane. As I hit the brakes to avoid her, the car behind me barely had room to stop. The driver of the gray jeep didn’t even notice as she continued a couple hundred feet before moving into her lane.

I am not overstating any of these comments. I described the jeep in detail hoping the driver may recognize herself and give some thought to being more careful. It’s gotten to the point where driving in Bad Axe is not a lot different than playing dodge-em cars at a carnival.

As I drove home, a driver came up behind me very quickly in Filion where the speed limit decreases. They crossed a yellow line to pass me exceeding the limit and continued at the same speed right through the town.

In one of my columns concerning this topic, I commented about what I observed in Port Austin. If you sit at the corner of North and Railroad streets, where the Port Austin post office is located, you will notice few drivers obey the four-way stop intersection. A number of vehicles just run it, paying no attention to the signs at all. This particular corner is very busy during summer months with youngsters heading to the putt-putt course located opposite the post office. Elderly people often walk to pick up their mail and travel a short distance down the block to the township library. It’s a miracle someone hasn’t been injured at the intersection.

I sincerely believe Sheriff Hanson has the right idea that enforcement of speed limits and stop and yield signs are required. I don’t think a patrol car on the side of the road with radar checking speeds will be enough. I would wager there are more speeding citations issued than all other traffic offenses.

I often wonder if traffic school is much help as new drivers join the traffic flow. It may even be a cause of some of today’s driving problems. I was riding with a young person, who had just completed driver’s training. After observing they passed over a yellow line, I pointed it out and was told, “It isn’t a double yellow line.” The driver really believed it had to be a double yellow to restrict passing. Many new drivers and perhaps those who forgot don’t recognize a yield sign either. They fail to understand it means you must give way to other traffic.

The facts are — there are too many vehicles on our roads and too few drivers that actually understand their responsibilities to observe traffic laws. They have the keys, the gas card and the car so everyone should look out for them.

Like many of my readers, I have had my share of tickets way back when and after suffering the unpleasant consequences, traffic school for one, I made a decision. Considering the many miles I travel, it was time to pay more attention to traffic signs and the hazards other drivers on the road present.

The sheriff is right but he needs a lot more help than his deputies can provide. He sure could use a few more lanes for traffic but we know that won’t be happening anytime soon. What would really help is if parents of new drivers would ride with them. Pay close attention to their driving skills. Take the time to point out traffic laws and how often they are ignored. Let them know penalties can be harsh if they ignore the laws.

As I see it, we can all give each other a lot more courtesy and consideration on the road by just observing traffic laws.

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