Either Havre de Grace drivers are crazy or I'm Miss Daisy

Some of my colleagues will tell you I'm not much of a driver, at least in the speed department.

Those who have shared the Harford County community newspaper business with me for any number of years will especially smile thinking about those of us who left the office together late at night for the trek to our various homes.

Inevitably, they would blow past whatever vehicle I was navigating toward my Havre de Grace home, not slowing down a bit as they zoomed by. My driving tends to be more akin to Morgan Freeman's "Driving Miss Daisy" than to any driver who has had even a fleeting thought of racing. Yeah, when I drive, I poke along. I've never been much of a hostile driver, but I think I'm becoming one.

Why am I starting to feel hostile? Let me count the ways:

Drivers who absolutely refuse to stop at stop signs. Back in the day, when some drivers sorta rolled slowly past stop signs without stopping completely, those maneuvers were called "California Stops." A "California Stop" today is the closet thing to a complete stop many motorists make. Some make no effort to even slow down, trying to time their vehicle's entry into traffic so they don't have to slow down yet alone stop. You haven't seen it? In Havre de Grace alone, check out the vehicles regularly coming out of the Meadows at Bulle Rock onto Chapel Road. They look more like a car trying to zoom out of the pit area and back into a NASCAR race. Or further east on Chapel at Bulle Rock Parkway. Or further east on Chapel at Tidewater Drive or at Grace Manor Drive.

Drivers who refuse to stop their vehicles at crosswalks to let pedestrians cross, as required by Maryland law.

Two perfect places to watch that law ignored are on Juniata Street, not even two blocks east of the Havre de Grace Police station, where folks try to cross from the softball and a multi-purpose field to the high school parking lot, and Union Avenue in front of Harford Memorial Hospital.

Both locations have stop signs with reminders of the state law posted in the middle of the road at what should be right in the driver's sight line. In other words, they can't miss them. But they sure do ignore them. Anyone who foolishly tries to walk across the street without first stopping and looking for those scofflaws is sure to get run over.

And speeding? Every day is a race, every road is a race course and nearly every driver is in the race. It doesn't matter. Every day on every street, every road, every highway and every interstate, someone is driving way too fast, at least according to common sense, or speed limit signs.

That doesn't count the really stupid stuff they do. Just the other day, my wife was driving with one of our daughters as a passenger in the middle lane of I-95 with a tractor trailer in the right lane alongside her Ford. Her vehicle and the tractor trailer weren't crowding each other, or the line separating them, at least in the eyes of a motorcyclist who thought the best way to pass them both was zooming in between them. So he did, zipping in between, passing them both without a lane of his own.

And then there are those who are supposed to be enforcing the traffic laws – the police, some of whom don't understand that when they're in a police car everyone is watching. What do observers see? They see police using their lights and sirens to zoom ahead of the traffic, only to turn them off when they've passed whatever congestion was in their way. Police ignoring stop-for-pedestrian signs. Police ignoring other stop signs. Or texting and driving. Or driving past a stop sign while texting as one Havre de Grace Police officer did last Friday.

It's not, however, just in Havre de Grace. Police everywhere feel entitled.

Entitled to obey the traffic laws they want and ignore those they don't. Entitled to speed when they want and write tickets to speeders when they want. More police officers should feel entitled to repay society's trust in holding them to higher standards because they're supposed to be holding everyone else to higher standards, rather than entitled to do what they want.

It's all more than enough to make this Miss Daisy's driver more than just a bit angry as he takes to the road, or tries crossing one on foot.

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