School Zones

School safety zones exist for the exact reason of safety. Get traffic to slow down so that students can come and go from the school quickly and safely, but also to allow buses and parent pick up/ drop off occur in a quick and safe manner. However, today I have found one caveat to that.

For the second time this month I made the trip to our district office. In order to take that trip in a timely manner I have to drive up a fairly large and busy mountain side. On said mountain side is a school and with that comes a speed safety zone. Inside the safety zone the speed limit is 15 MPH. Having a line of traffic drop to that speed on an incline turn is not a difficult task however trying to accelerate on the other side of the safety zone is not an easy task.

The incline at that point increases by another 2 degrees and if you have a large truck at the head of it forget it. There are two lanes of travel both ways, but its not always easy to negotiate that pass and the stress on the vehicle is unwarranted. That aside this does create another safety issue.

Some people just aren’t able to compensate quickly enough to slow down. Especially if they aren’t aware of the school zone up ahead. Yes, I am aware that any driver should be aware of their surroundings at all times, but not everyone is perfect. To bottom line it this particular schools safety zone doesn’t need to have the speed limit reduction. At no point in time will students ever be crossing on foot. The only vehicles coming in and out of the school other than the employees is buses and other district transportation vehicles.

I may just be bitching here people, but after watching a dump truck almost monster truck a smaller car for the second time in same area in a less than one month time frame I think my words hold some weight.

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Keepin the Hammer Down

When traveling long distances one of the key factors to arriving at your destination in a timely manner is traveling at a consistent speed. Our interstate system for the most part allows for that. A lot of interstate corridors have now raised their speed limits to 70 MPH or are at least studying that as a top speed.

Most vehicles on our roads are capable of driving at high rates of speed with improved breaking and suspension systems. I will also point out that in the event of an accident your survive-ability rate is significantly higher. However, all the technology in the world cannot make up for ones owns driving skills…..or lack there of.

Most vehicles are also more fuel efficient at higher rates of speed so traveling slower to maintain better fuel efficiency is no longer valid. To be clear I am not condoning speeding, just don’t be the guy slowing things down for the rest of that want to get to our destination in a timely manner. Good rule of thumb is that most cops won’t chase if you exceed the speed limit less than 5 MPH over the posted limit. i.e. Posted limit is 50 MPH then your speed should be between 50 and 55 MPH. Be warned though all bets are off on targeted enforcement days and aircraft enforcement always tags everyone.

If you are not confident in your driving skills please stick to city, country, and side road driving. The rest of us appreciate your cooperation.

Driving in the Snow

Today is the first serious snow fall for this winter season. Now we aren’t getting anything to the proportions that Boston did a few days ago, but enough that being cautious while driving is actually warranted. What I want to convey here is that there is safe and unsafe ways to drive in the snow.

Normally driving the actual posted speed limit or right below would be the correct thing to do. (Approximately up to less than 5 mph under the posted limit.) I also suggest adding an extra half a car length than the normal distance you keep between you and the person in front of you. Slick road conditions do increase required stopping distances. There is a limit to how reduced your speed can be despite the not so Kosher driving conditions.

There is such a thing as driving too slow. A reasonable amount of speed does need to be maintained in order just to maintain forward momentum of one’s vehicle, but also to allow tires to do what they are supposed to do and push the snow out of the way which a lot of newer tread designs do thus increasing the contact footprint with the ground and increasing traction. Driving significantly slower will cause traffic to back up and a line of slow moving cars does pose a hazard in addition to an inconvenience.

While driving to have my truck inspected this morning I ran into said slow driver this morning. While traveling on the main avenue toward my destination I ended up at the back of the pack of slow moving cars. Everyone’s speed was reduced due to the fact that the plow trucks have not touched the roads in a few hours. Even though we were moving the speed was a snail’s pace for bad weather conditions. I was about 8 vehicles back from what I would find to be the head of the line. One by one motorists would pass the slow moving truck, but it required them to move into the lane of traffic not really traveled so there isn’t the travel track of other vehicles to follow. So people are struggling to pass the offending vehicle and it eventually becomes my turn. I figured there must be something wrong and sure enough there is.

I am fortunate enough to have four wheel drive and had been using it from the word go this morning so passing was no difficulty for me. While passing I took a quick look at the vehicle causing the issue and thought there might be some assistance I could offer, but concern quickly turned to anger. This person was driving a truck of comparable size and scope to that of mine, barley had cleaned the excess snow off of it, and the driver was talking on the cell phone.  For about a heartbeats worth of time I thought about pushing them into the breakdown lane, but decided the hit and run wasn’t worth it. People’s stupidity is mind boggling to me sometimes.