Drivers, Pay Attention

Please stop, I silently beg the three drivers heading down the on ramp to Interstate 70 from Washington Avenue. I’m driving parallel to them at 55 mph with a line of traffic behind me. I have my turn signal on signifying that I’m getting off at the exit just west of that on ramp. I cannot slam on my brakes and stop on the highway to allow these drivers to merge into my lane.

Yet they keep coming down the ramp toward me. Fear has crept into my throat and I cannot scream if I wanted to. Don’t they understand what it means to yield when there is traffic in their path? I do the only thing I can. I lay on my horn, gun the engine and try to outrun them before I get hit. It worked, this time.

By the time I have exited the interstate my knees have turned to jelly. I vow never to take that route again, but why should I have to avoid it when it’s a matter of others obeying the traffic signs?

Some states have done away with the triangular yield signs. My guess it’s because no one obeys them anyway. I see plenty of public service announcements about impaired driving, texting and distracted driving. I see nothing to remind the driving public of those laws they were supposed to have learned when taking their drivers’ tests.

Many drivers do not move over when they see a police cruiser with flashing lights on the side of the road. If it’s not possible to move over, you can certainly lift your foot from the accelerator just a bit. I wouldn’t want to be a police officer walking up to a vehicle on the side of the road with traffic whizzing by at 70 miles per hour. That’s only one danger. That officer has to worry about who is in the vehicle and whether they are armed. Give them a break and let them focus on that and not have to worry about whether you are going to run them down because you aren’t paying attention.

I still see people driving with their cellphones perched on their steering wheels. I was behind a young woman whose vehicle was weaving into the other lane on W.Va. 88 in Oglebay because she was texting while driving. Only several horn blows made her pull into the correct lane again. Nothing is so important that it can’t wait until you can safely pull to the side of the road to text.

And for all the out-of-town drivers, let me give you a little hint about driving in downtown Wheeling. We have several one-way streets including portions of Main and Market streets. If you want to turn left onto either portion of those streets that are one-way, guess what? You can turn left on red as long as the coast is clear. That means paying attention to pedestrians and bicycle riders who might be using the same streets.

Right now it’s not easy driving anywhere around the valley because of all the utility and construction projects going on. That just means we all need to be even more vigilant when we get behind the wheel. All that inconvenience now will lead to progress down the road in the form of better sewer and power lines. Stay safe.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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