In South Africa, traffic lights are called robots. In Chester, they seem to be suggestions, rather than absolutes.
In two days, I have watched more people run red lights than seemingly normal. This morning, I watched a school bus for the handicapped run a red light. There were two vehicle accidents, one with an entrapment and one resulting in a fatality, at major controlled intersections, in the county. One incident did not result in an accident because the person with the green light checked before proceeding. An elderly woman ran the light as if it did not exist with no brake lights and no intention on her part to stop. In fact, I do not even know if she knew that she did it. All of this should cause each of us to be concerned and drive more defensively.
You have heard me say that distractions have caused many accidents. Adjusting a radio, answering your phone, dialing your phone, texting, reading a text or correcting your children are just a few of the many ways that we are distracted from the task-at-hand: DRIVING! We all need to be reminded, from time-to-time.
You are responsible for how you drive, but it is equally important to drive according to how others drive. Defensive driving means that each driver must do everything necessary to prevent an accident, no matter who is at fault. We all tend to push the envelope a bit and proceed through a light when it changes to yellow. I used to have a captain who would say, “If you can see the light turn red, then you have run a red light.”
I have always said that the quickest way for any of us to get mad is for someone to make a mistake while driving that affects us. A mistake, in this case, is a loosely used term, since some actions, by some drivers, are intentional. Whatever the case, get over it and move on.
There was a case this past week where road rage caused a man to follow a car and shoot the occupants. The driver then sped off. The news reported that he was caught because the driver of the other car took a picture of his license plate, even after being injured. This incident resulted in the death of a 13-year-old. The driver who sped off was later apprehended and gave the reasoning for his actions as mental illness. It is my belief that the driver of a vehicle is responsible for his/her actions, just as the owner and user of a gun is responsible for his/her actions. This brings us to a difficult dilemma surrounding who should be able to drive and who should not. Where we see this the most revolves around the elderly and the loss of their privilege to drive. For many, it is their last piece of independence and giving it up does not come easy.
I am thankful that Virginia is a state that requires state inspections. For those of you that are certified to do these inspections, thank you and please take your job seriously. Owners of motor vehicles are mandated by law to get their vehicle inspected annually. These inspections will not prevent an accident, but will help to ensure that the vehicle will work properly when evasive action must be taken. As I said earlier, you may be minding your own business and doing everything right, but another driver may cause mayhem for you and many others. Be prepared to take whatever action is necessary to prevent an accident.
I will conclude this article by addressing seatbelts and car seats. It is state law that all occupants must be seat belted and children must be properly restrained in properly-installed car seats. There is no excuse for a child not being properly restrained. Children are supposed to be a certain age and height before sitting in the front seat of a vehicle, even when a car seat is not required, due to the airbags. Injury or death could occur to an under-aged or under-sized child when an air bag deploys. I leave you with this: “Click it or ticket” and stop running those red lights.
Have a great July 4 celebration, and remember that it is against county ordinance to own, possess, discharge or sell fireworks in Chesterfield County without proper permits and licensing.