Cabarrus

Where's Southern hospitality on roads?

As a minivan-driving "taxicab mom," I travel the streets of Huntersville and the Lake Norman area constantly. It seems as though, in the past couple of months, local motorists' driving habits have become less considerate and responsible.

It is surprising, since one expects Southern hospitality to extend onto the local roads.

Lately, I have noticed many drivers like to follow me within what feels like inches of my rear bumper. These tailgaters make me nervous whether they are driving recklessly behind me or behind someone else.

Perhaps they missed the road test question about the standard safe following distance for vehicles being one car-length for every 10 mph you are traveling. Or maybe they do know, but they choose to blatantly disregard that guideline.

Some motorists drive as if they are NASCAR drivers practicing their bump-drafting technique. I have news for them: Sam Furr Road is not Daytona. The chase is over!

Equally as inconsiderate and irresponsible are drivers who refuse to use their turn signals. The turn signal should be used to inform other drivers of your intent to turn or switch lanes. It helps keep the flow of traffic accident-free. It is also state law.

The N.C. statute governing turn signal use, provided by the state Highway Patrol, says, "The driver of any vehicle upon a highway or public vehicular area, before starting, stopping or turning from a direct line, shall first see that such movement can be made in safety ... and whenever the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such movement, shall give a signal as required in this section, plainly visible to the driver of such other vehicle, of the intention to make such movement."

Then there are the drivers who use their turn signals only during or after their turn. If the turn signal had a voice, it would be saying, "Oh! By the way, in case you do not see for yourself, I am now turning," or "Ha-ha! I just turned and did not bother to tell you in advance."

If the turn signal is used appropriately, it should be saying, "Hello, drivers behind me and in front of me. I intend to make a turn in about 100 feet or more. Just wanted to let you know ahead of time so you would know what to expect. Have a great day!"

Drivers who change lanes are also supposed to use their turn signals. I see a very low percentage of drivers on I-77 and I-85 who bother to follow the law with regard to turn signal use before a lane change. What I typically experience is a rude and reckless driver cutting in front of me at a dangerous distance and speed without warning.

Unfortunately for law-abiding drivers, there will always be the tailgaters and turn signal haters. The turn signal law is rarely enforced unless misuse results in an accident.

Maybe, in the end, it would take being involved in an accident to motivate changes in driving habits. I just hope I am neither the cause nor the victim of such irresponsible driving.

If the tailgaters rear-end the drivers who do not use their turn signals, then perhaps that is all the justice we need.

Drive safely and responsibly. Please use a safe following distance and be considerate of other drivers by using your turn signal, so we can help keep our roads and highways a little safer and civil for ourselves and our precious families.

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