Monday , 24 November 2014
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STOP still spells ‘slow down’ for Miami drivers

Do you remember the column I wrote, maybe five years ago: “In Miami STOP spells slow down?” Well it’s still happening in our fair city.

My cell phone rings the other day.

“Bluh, you won’t believe this,” the anguished caller almost demanded of me.

“This morning, only a couple of hours ago, I was in my car approaching a four-waystop in East Kendall. You know, right behind the Greek Orthodox Church? There weren’t any cars approaching the intersection, but I stop anyway — that’s what the sign said.”

BAM, the car behind me slides into my rear end. I stop again and got out of the car. The other driver angrily jumped out of his car and charges at me.

“What the hell did you stop for? There were no cars comin! Just look what you did to my G—d—- car!”

“What did I do to your car, you idiot; you ran into me.”

From there he said the exchange went downhill. You won’t believe this but the guy got ticked off at the cop, who took over an hour to show, for writing him up as the at-fault driver.

That my friends, is our great South Florida community. STOP still spells slow down to 90 percent of Miami’s drivers. Can you believe, my caller was amazed that I wasn’t surprised by his tale of woe?

It reminded me of a non-accident incident that I witnessed from my second floor office window at the corner of Alhambra Circle and LeJeune Road in Coral Gables a few years ago. Looking out the window I saw a gigantic Hummer waiting at a red light to make a left turn.

Sitting behind the wheel of the tank-like Hummer was a little old lady. She was so short that she was looking under the steering wheel to see the traffic in front of her. That in itself is understandable. God made us in all sizes and shapes — although I think she should have at least been sitting on a pillow. But that wasn’t what caught my attention. Dangling from her lips was a cigarette and in her hand was a cell phone.

I could see her chatting away waiting for the light to change. In at the most two minutes, she was gone, gone around the corner down Alhambra Circle — an accident waiting to happen.

So it goes in Miami. I have a feeling that if that had happened, in say Vermont or Nebraska, you would’ve said, “Did you see that? I can’t believe anyone would drive like that. She must be crazy!” But here in Miami it is a daily happening — over and over again, dozens and dozens of times a day.

You would think that our elected officials in Tallahassee would be aware of the constant influx of drivers from around the world, understanding different traffic laws, using different driving techniques and unaccustomed to reading signs in English, that they would act and create tough legislation on cell phone use and texting — and see that they were enforced.

We need legislative and enforcement help in South Florida.

I have a friend who lives just north of Atlanta. He and his wife drive bigger and newer cars than my wife and I, but his auto insurance is less than one third of mine — and my wife and I have good driving records.

Why the difference? Easy, because the insurance companies are busy paying claims created by the bad drivers we see on the streets of Miami every single day that they must constantly jack up the premium so they don’t go broke.

We have been talking about this for years. And every year that passes it gets worse. I guess the only way it will change is when a member of a prominent legislator’s family is seriously hurt or, unfortunately, killed in a traffic accident, that they will see the need and do something about it. Until then drive defensively.

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