After enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with my family, I headed out on Sunday evening for my regular run to Laredo, Texas. I decided to sleep a bit extra and leave out later in hopes that the brunt of heavy holiday traffic would be dissipated. Leaving later also afforded me an extra dinner at home with my wife and son.
I decided to go around Charlotte to avoid the heavy traffic and instead took I-40 West to US 321 South to I -85 South. This route is just slightly longer in miles however worked to my benefit as traffic flowed along nicely. As I continued my travels along I-85 South towards Atlanta, GA it appeared that my plan was unfolding perfectly.
As I approached Gaffney, South Carolina, rain drops began to hit my windshield. Shortly thereafter, the rain began to pour down much harder. Not only was I now dealing with heavy rainfall but the traffic ahead of me was getting heavier as well. At once, it seemed as though everyone came out on the road at the same time. I witnessed aggression in drivers as many appeared that they wanted to be ahead of everyone else. I watched as cars darted in and out of traffic just to get a few spots ahead. I observed many of the trucks on the road as they seemed to wait and drive patiently as the cars/pickups and SUV’s darted and dodged around them for position. At one point, this all reminded me of being on a race track. The majority of trucks seemed to take the traffic in stride as we deal with traffic on a regular basis. I did honestly witness a few trucks being aggressive as well, however they were few. As I sat up high in my truck and watched just about every rule be broken that I learned in Driver Ed class, I realized this could be a critical situation and I better be on my A game. As I continued to watch drivers, it appeared to me as though these people had lost their minds. However, upon observing further as we proceeded down the highway, it occurred to me that really there were just a few that were setting the tone to which the rest of us needed to react. During the next hour, there were many fender benders sitting along the shoulder of the highway.
Luckily, I was able to proceed without incident and made my way down through Atlanta. When I reached my destination for the night in Tallapoosa, GA, I thanked the good Lord for watching over me. Nights like those will make your hair stand up on your head. It’s stressful for everyone on the road during a holiday and if people would just follow the basic rules of the road, we would all be better off. There were very few accidents as most of what I observed could be characterized as a crash. There is a difference between and accident and a crash.
What I witnessed during this holiday traffic would surely have made my high school Driver Education teacher very upset. The simple rules of the road were not being followed Sunday evening. I watched as motorists switched lanes with no turn signals in an area with a solid white line. This indicates you are not to switch lanes with or without a turn signal. People followed way too close in low visibility and adverse weather conditions. Exit ramps are placed to make an exit off the highway and onto the ramp; they are not to be used to make a pass.
When I parked for the night, I decided to conduct a google search on the percentage of high school students who are still taking a driver education class. It appears that over the last decade, many high schools have done away with their driver education. They have opted to spend more of their budget money to prepare students for college or a career. Some schools do not have the budget money to offer the classes any longer. Many students today take an online class or take private behind the wheel instruction. In reading, it appears that there are many students who don’t take any driver education at all. This may explain some of the actions I witnessed on Sunday evening. I feel that driver education is very important and should remain part of the high school curriculum for all students who wish to drive.