I’ve lived in a few different spots across America, but the Pacific Northwest has been my ho
me for a good, long while now. There’s a lot to love here…but the local driving skills leave something to be desired.
Alex is a Listener on the Loose who originally hails from Arizona. This is a guy I can relate to, because I spent some time out in the AZ desert valleys, too. Alex also shares some of my frustrations when it comes to Washington drivers.
The Northwest is very pedestrian-friendly, and we do love our bicycles out here. However, I often wonder if our accommodating attitude toward pedestrians is contributing to a local culture of drivers who forget they’re operating a motor vehicle!
Walkers and bike riders have a long list of rights and privileges here, all designed to keep them safe; the problem I see is that most of that safety is the responsibility of vehicle drivers, and not the pedestrians themselves. You put that pedestrian behind the wheel of their own car, and they can’t break out of the “I’m safe because everyone’s looking out for me” mindset that they learned on foot.
Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great that we have a progressive mindset in regards to people getting around. The big flaw in the plan is that it presumes that everyone is paying attention at all times.
Spoiler alert: People are not paying attention at all times.
Between that sense of pedestrian safety, the attention-suck of technology, and the everyday hustle and bustle of life, the roads (and sidewalks, and bike lanes) are more dangerous than ever before. We all need to be looking out for each other, or the system will never work properly.
Pay attention when you’re out there today. Try it just this once, and see if it suits you. Once you get the hang of it, you can just do it every day. It’s hard enough to stay safe on a clear day; if you add in the wet Washington weather, the disaster potential increases.
I was stopped at a traffic light the other day and to pass the time I counted the cars going through the intersection with the green light that had the driver on their cell phone. I stopped at 7 out 10, 70%. Another scary thing is to be stopped at a light, look in your rear view and see the car in back of you barreling along and stopping just inches from your bumper because the driver was to distracted to realize traffic was stopped. Now that's a helpless feeling, should you rush through the intersection to keep from getting rear ended? My answer lately has been to put my head out the window even after they finally have stop and look back at them and hold up my hand in the stop position.
Making others cause accidents
I've had fun with this in the past.
We've all been stuck in Seattle traffic during the afternoons, where there's a driver to your right or left staring at their phone without looking up. Next time that happens, see if you can bait them into driving ahead. Give yourself some room in front of you, and wait for the driver directly left or right to start looking at their cell phone/etc. Once they do, idle forward for a bit as if it just turned green.
I've gotten more than one car to hit the driver in front of them because they based their driving on what they saw peripherally. Just make sure the car ahead is in a condition that their insurance will still repair it.
Ain't I a stinker?
ah yes, whole heartdly agree
I really wish Seattle adopted what you were talking about BJ on Friday, all cross lights. There is only two intersections, that I know of, downtown that is an all cross intersection 1st and university and 1st and pike. As a professionnal driver, I absolutely love these intersection cause they bring the minimum chance of an idiot accident. (actually pedestrians love crossing when they are not suppose to which I blare my horn and point at the sign). I know they are only used in high foot traffic areas but aren't all downtown intersections getting to this point. Don't even get me started on PAX weekend (i take this weekend off cause the foot traffic is so bad). Why can we have underground walkways like London and why are we making it able to cross in turning one way roads. If buildings were smart they would make underground markets that cross the intersections like the Seattle Munipal tower and the Columbia Tower. But above all pedestrians and bikers if we have to follow the no distraction laws (i know we obviously aren't) then by chance so should you.
Someone else was also discussing this very subject !!!!!
My ex-wife told my son the other day "please don't drive like your dad when you get your license !!! I have always been very vocal about what the NW driver isn't and that is an attentive, considerate but PROACTIVE driver and I will teach my son to be that driver that stays out of groups in all 3 lanes and move through traffic instead of the sheep that fill today's hwys and roads... He will know how to manage his lane use and speeds so that he is a part of going "somewhere" and not just driving like he is already home watching the TV. People these days are so up in the clouds driving along like sheep with no awareness nor consideration for the basics in speed and lane management along with proper merging skills. Those that think by just traveling along @ the speed limit is driving right and that there are not additional skills that make the roads safer for all of us - it's even worse when I am on my motorcycle navigating through all the left lane sheep and self appointed deputy WSP drivers that think they have a responsibility to teach you what you should be doing instead of worrying about themselves.... I'd much rather drive w the crazies in CA then here - at least they are going somewhere and make a decision and move forward in traffic !!!
have you seen Colorado drivers
when it rains over there they don't go outside and most crashes happen at that time
RE: Making others cause accidents
I've been on both sides of that coin! You are a stinker :P -