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Opinion

Slower drivers need to be attentive, considerate

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October 11, 2007

I don’t understand other drivers. Why is it so difficult to drive at an appropriate speed?

I have to drive down Main Street in River Falls almost every day of the week. It’s bad enough that one intersection is still under construction months after the project was started. But what really bugs me is the apparent inability for drivers to read a simple road sign that consists of three syllables and two numeric digits.

SPEED LIMIT 35. The whole section of Main Street between ShopKo and Jerry’s Auto Repair allows for vehicles to travel at a higher rate of motion than the section that passes the downtown shops and residential roads. Get it in your head, people.

Every day I have to drive down that road, somebody just decides that those who assigned the speed limit didn’t know what they were doing. Somebody has to set their speedometer at barely above 25 miles per hour and ignore the fact that there are at least a dozen cars lined up behind them ready to pretend they’re driving on a NASCAR track.
Then everyone wonders why people get so angry while they’re behind the wheel.

It’s not just River Falls, either. If you’ve ever driven on the interstate (or any four-lane highway) for more than half an hour, I’m sure you’ve encountered the one driver who refuses to let the little needle slip over the speed limit and also refuses to move into the right lane where they belong.

Instead, they remain steadfast, apparently determined to change the social norms of the road and single-handedly teach everyone that the posted speed limit is absolute. I’m sorry, it’s not going to happen.

What I love most about these people is the fact that once you finally get a chance to pass them (or in my case, blow by them with my car’s engine roaring), they look over and glare at you as if you are the one responsible for the degeneration of human society.

I will admit, though, that I love speed. There isn’t much that can thrill me as much as pushing the upper limits of an engine in a speed test or an impromptu mini race with a willing stranger on a long interstate drive. Hearing that mechanical growl and seeing the scenery blur by on all sides gives me more of a high than caffeine or even chocolate.

But I also understand that not everyone drives like I do. And when I’m speeding along and come up behind another vehicle putting along at five over, I slow down. I don’t get angry, and I don’t try to drop my front bumper next to the kid sitting in the back seat.

And at the same time, if I see that there’s another car behind me that is going faster than I am, I either move over or speed up, at least a little, if I can.

It’s a simple common courtesy.

Everyone has those days when they just need to get somewhere fast, and no one enjoys being stuck behind someone who doesn’t understand driving decency.

And if you’re not comfortable keeping up with the traffic around you, then maybe you should just let someone else drive who is, because the rest of us actually have somewhere to go.

Katrina Styx is a student at UW-River Falls.