Monday, December 4, 2006
Consider This for December 4, 2006-Signs, signs, everywhere there are signs
I have driven my personal car around 80,000 miles in the past couple of years. Up and down I -70 from my office at the capitol to my home in Breckenridge. There should be some sort of recognition for those of us dumb enough to make that drive every day. Not unlike giving a gallon of blood and getting a pin for your jacket. I have three of those now. Maybe I could get a gold pin formed into the numeral 80 with a question mark along side indicating the questioning of my intelligence.
Along this trail of miles I have become an even greater observer of how bad my fellow motorists have become.
There is one irony in all this that never fails to amaze me. People who drive cars and trucks with their name and phone number on the side of the vehicle are especially bad drivers.
Several years ago I noticed a Summit County school bus driving on Highway 9 between Frisco and Breckenridge billowing heavy black smoke. It looked like it had thrown a piston or at least had very bad rings.
I called the then-superintendent to mention how bad the bus appeared and that it was obviously polluting our clean air. I was told the bus was scheduled for replacement but until a new bus was found it would probably remain in service. I then reminded the superintendent that each and every bus had the name of the school district on the side and served as a mobile billboard for the district. The bus was removed that day.
I was the Director of Public Safety for three years and was responsible for the Summit County Ambulance Service. Our trainer at the time said the same thing. Regardless of circumstances always drive like the entire world is watching. When you put the name of your organization on the side of a vehicle people will naturally watch how you are driving.
The same goes for law enforcement and fire service vehicles. The average citizen considers each vehicle as his own. I am serious. The community is very attached to its rolling stock and is always interested in what the operators are doing. They are paying attention to their driving habits.
I was a police officer off and on for over forty years. I know how easy it can be to believe you are bulletproof and you can do anything you want to do with a car. As a public safety administrator and elected official I know how many calls I got about where vehicles were seen and what the drivers seemed to be doing that was wrong.
And then there are vanity plates, sometimes referred to as personalized license plates. Owners go to great extremes to get the right plate saying the right thing so everyone and her brother will know whose car it is coming down the road and then drive stupidly. They display who they are and then drive like they are invisible. No one will ever know it was they who passed at a high rate of speed. No one will ever know it was they who ran the red light. It is counterintuitive for someone to display his name to get attention and then trash his name with bad driving. You know who you are. Either drive better or get an anonymous license plate.
As a state representative I get special license plates to indicate my elected office. Once I put them on my car I became very sensitive to the fact that people immediately knew who was driving the car. I won’t tell you all the things I stopped doing but I will assure you that I did stop.
Several years ago the wife of one of the state representatives had a reputation in the county for speeding and making turns on two wheels at intersections. She was stopped many times and would always tell the officer that she could not get a ticket because of her husband’s position. Not true. I always thought we should throw the book at anyone who drove badly and then asked for dispensation because of some elected position.
I wish everyone would drive safely and obey all of the rules of the road all the time. But I also believe that if you drive something with a name on the side or something with special plates you need to drive especially well.