Saturday, September 1, 2012


It was an ordinary day behind the wheel of my car. I was driving across town at the prescribed speed of 35 MPH when a car, suddenly, shot in front of me from a side street, forcing me to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting him.

You’d think that someone in such a G.D.A. hurry would continue up the road at 40 to 50 MPH, but not this Numnut.  Once ahead of me he quickly reduced his speed to 23 MPH.  I tried to move to the left lane, but it was too busy.  At the next intersection, the Numnut turned off onto a side street, and I found myself behind another slow-moving car.   

I pulled into the left lane, stopped at a traffic light, and looked to my right.  The driver had a drink cup in one hand, a cell phone in the other, and a BlueTooth headset implanted in his ear.    

The light changed, and he drove off, steering with a forearm.  At the next light the woman to my right was applying make-up while she talked on a cell phone tucked between her cheek and shoulder.

 I cast a judgmental look her way, which she saw, and drove off, giving me the...

I did the math: one hand was holding a lipstick.  The other hand was giving me the finger = no hands on the wheel of a moving car.    

I was half-way across town and in the campus area. I stopped at a crosswalk and waited for the students to cross.  

No one looked to the left. No one looked to the right.  All heads were down, eyes focused on hand-held devices.  Do they think there’s an invisible shield around crosswalks, magically protecting them? Nah, more likely their behavior reflects the “It’s all about me” syndrome.   You know – “You’re supposed to look after me because … well, just because you are.”  

That attitude is just one of the reasons why – despite an ever-increasing arsenal of traffic signs and lights …


… the number of pedestrian deaths and injuries continue to rise.  In 2010, the last year in which statistics are available, there were 4,100 pedestrian deaths and 7,000 injuries. Other factors to blame for this national crisis include a rise in the sheer number of electronic handheld users,   

and an increase in the amount of time the average aperson spends on such devices (now up to 94 minutes a day from 76 minutes a year ago, “thanks” to the more than 1,250,000 “apps” available), while simultaneously performing a variety of other tasks, like walking, shopping, driving, cooking, etc….

Although multitasking is touted to be the sign of a superior brain on top of an Olympian body, this just ain’t so.  Research shows, in fact, that the number of people who can do two or more things simultaneously and do them well (and safely) is close
to NIL.

Maybe that’s why a pedestrian is killed every two hours in the United States.

In 2011, 1,500 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries suffered while walking and using a cell phone or some other kind of electronic device. It makes you wonder how many more people might have ended up in an ER or graveyard if not for plain dumb luck  -- like the man who was walking and texting and didn't notice the big brown bear coming his way.  


And the woman at a mall, who fell into a water fountain: 

Or the man who walked off a subway platform and onto the tracks:


The public needs to start taking responsibility for its own behavior. Someone needs to tell them that when shit happens, it’s not necessarily the other person’s fault.  That’s why some cities and states have begun to crack down on pedestrians.  The State of Delaware, for example, recently placed decals on sidewalks and crosswalks at busy intersections that read:  “Look up!  Drivers aren’t always looking for you.” 

The City of North Hollywood set up a “sting” operation at a busy intersection.  Pedestrians who were seen crossing the street after the red hand signal flashed were cited,    

Charlotte, N.C. and Billings, Montana are staking out busy street corners and issuing citations to jaywalkers and traffic light offenders.  

I continued across town.  The driver in front of me dangled an arm out his car window, a lit cigarette between his fingers, its stench stinking up my car.  Then, if that weren’t enough, at the next red light, he opened his car door and spit into the street.  My friend Judy says that that’s how the plague was spread. By spitting!


If only there were a place to go to report rude and dangerous drivers --a kind of electronic Citizen’s Arrest -- maybe (repeat: maybe) I wouldn’t have to WHINE.    

When I got home, I googled “report bad drivers,” and guess what  I found?   Platewire is a public repository and electronic forum of drivers by drivers. Commuters are invited to make statements about specific drivers by listing their license plates. Reports are organized by States. 

According to the site owner, city and state enforcement  agencies frequently check the site.      

I grabbed my purse and car keys, a pad and pencil and hit the road.  I was going on a test drive.  

Whiningly yours, Carol

"Coming of Age...AGAIN"
"An intelligent woman's novel."



  1. Good post much dangerous truth behind the whine. Although many states have laws from protect us from these idiot divers, so few of them are enforced. And although I care little if these people hurt themselves (i.e the woman who fell in the fountain) I deeply resent their threatening MY well being

  2. Once again I laughed and wondered if you were behind me while I drove around town and encountered all these things! You should write a book about these things, really. I love how we are able to get things off our chest with your posts. Have a better day!

  3. I can so relate! And don't even get me started with drivers and bikers around campus. Oy!

  4. started to respond here -- will go to your e-mail address instead.