Pay Attention Please

Recently crash and fatality statistics have begun to rise. After decades of steady decline, more people are dying on our nation's highways. Commercial vehicle crashes have become more frequent. Automobile crash rates have risen as well. As a matter of fact automobile crash rates have been rising at a much faster pace than truck crash rates. Many experts blame inattentive driving. This professional driver agrees, and I will go further - I blame the phone users.

Recently, I was up against the clock. I had missed a turn and was going to get to my parking spot with just a few minutes to spare. I was running close to the 70 MPH speed limit on I 70 westbound near I75. A car passed me. The driver had his device up near the top of the his steering wheel and was watching it intently. He was in the middle lane. After he got passed me he slowed down. I passed him on the right. This process repeated itself until I got off the interstate. It was irritating.

A few days later a woman in a compact utility vehicle passed me in Wisconsin on I43. She had the phone down by her right hip. Clearly visible from my seat. I guess that she thought that no one would notice her paying more attention to that phone than the road ahead. She cut in front of me and slowed way down until her exit about 2 miles ahead. I noticed and was not exactly pleased.

Then heading north on the Edens expressway out of Chicago, I noticed two young ladies paasing me in their SUV. They were sitting very close and were not going too straight. As they were passing me their vehicle crossed into my lane. As they got next to me, I could see that they were taking selfies. AARRGH!

My next incident involved a semi driver, while I was on my motorcycle. I was westbound on I80 heading to the truck show in Walcott, IA. Since my truck was not needed, I took the bike. It was where I280 and I80 merge. It starts out as 3 lanes and 280 comes in from the left. I stayed in the far right lane to avoid any problems. I was riding at the 65 MPH speed limit. The semi was coming from my left and skipped right from its lane through the middle lane into the right lane that I was occupying. Thankfully, the shoulder was available. Going from the interstate to the shoulder at highway speeds on a bike is more than irritating. IT IS SCARY.

The driver was using a hand held cell phone. He pulled back into the middle lane after he noticed me. He may have heard the horn. I am not sure. You know he gave me that "Where did you come from?" look as I passed him. Maybe some of the new safety technology has made us less vigilant. Maybe the driving compartments in cars and trucks have become too comfortable. I don't know. I do know that driving can be fatal. I know that no call text, or Email is more important that a human life. It is simple. Hang up and drive.

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So true Jeff. On a trip last week in Kansas City, KS and then Houston, TX, I witnessed distracted drivers a couple times. One evening on a surface street 10 lanes wide in Houston. I'm doing all I can to figure out where to go and what lane to be in and people are on their phones and not paying much attention. Makes for a stressful trip sometimes. My guess is that eventually the federal government will step in and mandate legislation that will curb distracted driving, possibly by mandating vehicles that disable phones and other electronic devices when in operation.

July 27, 2017 10:44:13 AM

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About Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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