Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bad drivers

Wow! Just heard the local DJs about to give away Prince concert tickets - $ 314 per ticket – Wow! I don’t know what kind of show he puts on, but that’s more than the Rolling Stones or Sting were getting. Any of you want to shell out $ 314 (plus fees) apiece to go see this guy?

Getting out of my car this morning in the parking lot here at work I noticed a helicopter just hovering a short distance away. We are really close to the I-215 freeway, right at the off ramp to the airport. This is a frequent site of traffic accidents, so I figured there was something going on at the freeway. Walking across the lot I saw two more helicopters lining up. This indicates that it was either a pretty big accident or there was nothing else going on around town this morning so all of the news copters were here together.

Vegas is a big accident town. I’ve talked before about this place having the worst drivers of anywhere I have ever been. Most major streets have a speed limit of 45, and people have no problem driving 70. When coming up to a traffic light, most people feel that the orange warning light means speed up the light is about to turn red. When it turns red it means really speed up to get here before the other traffic starts across. If I’m at the head of a pack when a light before me turns red the first thing I do is look into my rear view mirror to see how close the guy behind me is, and if he is speeding up. Then as I slow down to stop I brace myself against the seat in preparation for being hit from behind. Hasn’t happened yet, but quite frequently I’ll hear the screech of brakes back there, and loud curses for my not blowing through the red.

When driving to work in the morning I come down Frank Sinatra Drive, which parallels the I-15 freeway, running right behind the big strip casinos. There is lots of construction on this road now, with the big City Centre project and new pipes being placed in the road. But because the street runs from an industrial area down behind the casinos, no cross streets and usually no police it is rather deserted at night, with almost no traffic. That makes it a popular place for drag racing, or just driving your car really really fast. At the south end the road goes through a full turnback and a series of sharp curves. Driving down there in the morning there have been many days were I came upon cars sitting off the road at the curve in the gravel, skid marks on the curb and bent warning signs.

A few days ago I was slowing for a construction truck and noticed a tow truck backing onto the road on the other side of the center divider while a police officer held back traffic. It looked like he was headed for a big dump truck, which was much bigger than the tow truck, when I noticed a car on its side over on the other sidewalk. I’m not used to looking over at the bottom of a car. There is an ‘S’ curve there, to get traffic around where the road is being dug up. So I am assuming that somebody was racing the night before, went through the ‘S’ curve really fast and slid sideways into the curb, which flipped the car up on its side. At least I hope that is what it was, and not some poor person just being in the wrong place and being hit by one of those bad drivers.

Story in last Sunday’s paper discussed another fatal accident. Two kids racing in the middle of the afternoon on a residential street when one hit an oncoming car head-on, killed the kid. In the interview with parents they said that there was nothing wrong with the street racing, they encouraged their kids to do it because working on cars kept them out of gangs, and it didn’t hurt anyone. All I could think of was the family in the car they hit, and the people walking on the streets where they race. There is a reason for speed limits – two cars doing 70 on a residential street, with kids playing and other cars driving and bikes being ridden – don’t tell me it’s OK and encouraged. Let them fix up the cars and show them off, or go to the supported races held at the track, don’t do it in the street. Stupid.

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