TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

April 10, 2014

What happens when drivers make ‘I wanna be first’ decisions

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

To the truck driver who glared at me and saluted me with that special finger for driving too slow on U.S. 25E coming from Barbourville yesterday — maybe you should hang up and slow down.

Or better still, just pass me and go on — I can’t afford a ticket.

I was driving back yesterday from a visit to the city of Barbourville and was heading back to work for a couple of hours.

I was in no hurry, but I was driving about 58-60 mph — the speed limit along that stretch, as most of us know, is 55 mph.

The good thing about that highway is that it’s four lanes — so people willing to risk a speeding ticket can be well on their way in the passing lane and leave us speed-limit drivers in the dust.

As usual, the bulk of traffic whizzed by me in the fast lane — oblivious, apparently, to the fact they were not traveling on I-75.

And then the truck driver entered into my view through the rear view mirror. It was pretty obvious to me he was speeding — within a couple minutes he went from a gray, moving sludge in my mirror to a pair of headlights and nothing else.

There was no traffic anywhere near either of us — but he insisted on flashing his lights and riding pretty close to my bumper.

I react as I always do — I let off on the accelerator.

A second later, he was having to slam on brakes to keep from hitting me — but still, he did not pass.

I finally turned on the headlights — which caused the brake lights to come on.

That truck nearly swerved off the right side of the road.

I let out a nervous laugh at that point, wondering what kind of mess this was turning into.

I guess that did it for him — he jerked his Ford into the passing lane, and with the phone in one hand, flipped me that special finger with the other.

It was a precious moment in road rage history I can tell you.

I lowered my sunglasses from my eyes, did a very visible eye roll in his direction, and drove on. He did swerve back into my lane to cut me off, but I anticipated the move and slowed down even more. That got me one more “single-finger salute” as he sped away.

But as I was driving, I got to thinking. Lately, as I have traversed that highway, the visibility of law enforcement has dropped significantly.

When I first took this job, one of the things I noticed was the law enforcement patrolling along U.S. 25E. Drivers had to be on their toes from the state line all the way to I-75 because local and state law enforcement had several very good hiding places along that road to stop speeders.

But within the last few months, that coverage has dwindled. I have seen many a car drive through Pineville and Barbourville far exceeding the posted 45 mph limit.

I have traveled between those towns at speeds of 60 mph only to be passed again, and again, and again by vehicles traveling 70 mph or faster.

Yesterday when I was driving between Barbourville and Corbin, despite the busyness of the traffic in the afternoon, I only passed one vehicle. But I can easily say that at least 58 cars, trucks and tractor-trailers buzzed by me like I was parked.

Look, folks, those of us above age 18 with a driver’s license are considered “adults.” As “adults,” we shouldn’t need to be babysat like infants when it comes to obeying the traffic laws.

I certainly shouldn’t have to choose an open forum requesting law enforcement to babysit the roads.

I’ve seen what happens when drivers make reckless, “I wanna be first” decisions.

Vehicles crash.

Bodies get injured.

People die.

So if you’re behind the wheel today and some fool in a Buick is riding the speed limit in front of you, take caution — the closer you get to my bumper the more nervous I get and the slower I drive.

Consider leaving earlier.

John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at jross@thetimestribune.com.

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