State should address our bad driving habits

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We have become a nation of bad drivers. Young and old alike ignore the basic rules of the road.

How did we get to this point? Why do motorists suddenly turn rude and ignorant when they climb behind the wheels of vehicles?

We can debate if the younger drivers are learning their horrible habits from their elders or the older drivers are taking their cues from the younger generation.

Are people taking more risks because they know that the odds of being stopped by the police are slim. Many law-enforcement departments are undermanned, and traffic stops seemed to have been pushed to the background as officers deal with other pressing issues, such as illegal drug activity, assaults and much more.

Without police keeping watch over our roads, driving regulations seem to have taken on new interpretations, such as:

Obeying posted speed limits is for wimps.

Turn signals? The devices must be optional equipment on many makes and models of cars and trucks.

It's better to keep the other drivers guessing. This also helps sharpen the reflexes of motorists who are following the mindless drivers who don't use signals.

Motorists who are to yield to oncoming traffic take it upon themselves to pull right onto the highway, causing those who have the right of way to jam on their brakes. How chain-reaction accidents are avoided is a miracle.

Rolling stops have become the norm. Some drivers don't even pretend to stop — their foot never touches the brake pedal.

The few seconds gained by not coming to a full stop presumably will come in handy sometime during the day.

Right outside The Tribune-Democrat offices is Locust St. and Gazebo Place. There is a stop sign for motorists who are attempting to turn right onto Gazebo Place.

Although its eight-sided form has been altered by several large trucks making the turn too sharply, the sign still is visible. During any given lunch hour, drivers who actually stop at the sign can be counted on one hand.

We have observed lawyers, Johnstown city employees in marked vehicles and even a drivers-education car proceed unabated through that intersection. Drivers may erroneously believe that right turns at that intersection take preference. They don't.

To counteract our bad driving, Pennsylvania has started its third Aggressive Driving Wave for 2017.

During this enforcement period, which ends Aug. 27, municipal police departments and the state police will focus on red-light running, tailgating, steer-clear violations and speeding, according to the website, the Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Enforcement Resource Center.

Police also will target other unsafe driving practices, such as driving too fast for conditions, texting, careless driving and work zone violations, the website states.

During the second wave, which took place March 20 to April 30, more than 16,000 citations were issued or arrests made. Of those, 10,546 were speeding-related citations.

Hopefully, commonwealth drivers soon get the message.

Perhaps Pennsylvania should retest drivers at set intervals — say every five or 10 years — just as a refresher.

The exams would reintroduce motorists to the rules and regulations of driving on Pennsylvania highways.

It certainly couldn't hurt.

The Tribune-Democrat
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