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DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Years later, nitwits still on the road

by Frank Fellone | April 18, 2020 at 9:19 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: I had an epiphany. You know how we see other drivers doing things that blow the mind? And we think we need to write a letter to the paper or to the psychic medium who writes a column about such things? The epiphany is those folks probably don't read the newspaper anyway. You know the types: The guy who knows he doesn't need his headlights on during a storm; the guy who follows about 2 inches from your bumper because he is convinced his action will cause the guy in front of you to go faster; the guy who runs a red light because he knows he has the right to do so as long as the other guy doesn't hit him. Because no one who might benefit is going to read it anyway. -- Jangled Jim

Dear Jangled: May we make three points?

First, that we have written this column for right at 15 years -- April 2005 to April 2020 -- and appreciate the opportunity to pat ourselves on the back. We remember the newspaper colleague who said this wouldn't last six months, because we'd run out of things to write about. It makes the head swim.

In those 15 years we have seen much improvement on the state's system of highways. Getting to Jonesboro or El Dorado is so much easier now. And look at the Big Rock Exchange, the recent widening of Interstate 630, and the widening of Interstate 40 between North Little Rock and Conway.

On a smaller scale, potholes in our town get fixed faster than ever. Also, some cities in Arkansas have put in roundabouts, or traffic circles, which research shows reduce the number of T-bone collisions at intersections.

Yes, we have read that drivers are more subject to minor fender-benders in traffic circles. We attribute that to those with multiple lanes. Even we struggle with multilane traffic circles.

Second, that progress is made on other fronts. Our readers go nuts over expired drive-out tags, uninsured motorists, and violations of handicap privileges. The former remain problematic, but the other two have solutions. Or at least options.

The Department of Finance and Administration now has a real-time computerized system to identify uninsured vehicles, and inform both drivers and law enforcement officers.

Regarding handicapped parking, a call to the local police department is always in order. And the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission has a system by which residents can report violations. Visit the website.

The commission also offers a warning slip to put on windshields. At the bottom of the warning slip there is a reference to the commission's Accessible Parking Task Force. Very serious; very official. Print out and keep handy.

Third and in conclusion, that human nature does not change, and the best and smartest drivers act defensively. They watch out for the other guy because -- as you have eloquently stated -- the other guy is a driving fool.

Metro on 04/18/2020


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