Drive friendly, not distracted

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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As reporters, we unfortunately have to go to many accident scenes.

What’s frustrating is most of those accidents could be avoided.

Perhaps because I get to see the aftermath of these accidents, it annoys me more when I see actions around me that could result in wrecks.

I’m talking about distracted drivers.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

Probably after speeding, it’s the most common cause of wrecks. Distractions could include texting, messing with the radio, eating, putting on make-up or even being engaged in a conversation.

I travel on Hale Street in Decatur often in my daily commute. As I’m pulling up to the intersection with College or Trinity Streets, I see something with alarming regularity: drivers blowing through stop signs.

Look, we’ve all been there. You’re deep in thought, you look in the rearview mirror to see a stoplight and you have that moment of panic as you say to yourself, “That light was green, wasn’t it?”

But those moments should only serve to remind us of the importance of paying attention to our surroundings.

I was headed home from the office one night, headed south on Church Street and pulled up to Hale. As I was less than a block away, I saw a rock truck going full speed (possibly even speeding) westbound on Hale.

I knew at that speed, going downhill, there was no way he was stopping at the stop sign one block away.

As I pulled up to my own stop sign, I looked to my right, almost scared at what I might see. Luckily, since it was later in the evening, there wasn’t much traffic, so no one had pulled out into the roadway as the truck blew through the intersection with nary a brake light to be seen as it continued past the “no trucks” sign and headed back toward U.S. 81/287.

That was the first 18-wheeler I had seen blow through the intersection. Usually it’s smaller vehicles.

Most of the time I see the vehicles cross in front of me as I’m pulling up to the intersection. But recently I was driving behind such a driver eastbound on Hale Street when I witnessed the car never slow down as it passed Trinity Street. I wondered if it would do the same at College, but another car stopped in front of it at the intersection, preventing that from happening.

Perhaps these are people who don’t live in the area, who aren’t familiar with the streets of Decatur. Maybe the new way finder signs in the area will cut down on a few of these stop sign runners.

But, then again, if they are looking for signs, they would probably see the stop sign.

We live in a world of distractions, but when it comes time to get behind the wheel of a car, we need to put those distractions out of our mind as much as we can.

As reporters, we’d rather not cover another accident caused by a distracted driver.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager.

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