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BEACHCOMBER: Our Drivers & Pedestrians

  • By David Barron

No matter where I go, it’s always the same complaint: “The drivers are terrible here.” Then for good measure, they add:  “The pedestrians are terrible, too.”

If you go into the West Side in L.A., you hear the same complaint. When you visit San Fernando Valley or the Inland Empire, it’s always the same bit of whining.

People are people and they will usually drive and walk in the same manner no matter what their status in life. The complaints differ, because some people may add an ethnic slur to the words.

They even attack older people.

One year, I visited students at a local high school. During the question and answer session, one high school student asked: “why do the old people drive so slow?”

I had just finished an eight-hour senior driving course and knew the answer.

Our instructor, MPPD’s Sgt. Jim Reynolds had cautioned us about knowing our limitations.

His advice was something like this: “You are older now and your reactions are slower. Your peripheral vision is not as good as it used to be.”“Slow down, don’t drive as fast – you are not a teenager any more.”

“Always look for other cars when crossing an intersection.”

There are questions; seniors have too (me being one of them.)

“Why do young people drive so fast?” The answer is “because they can.”

“Why do they make so many U-turns?’”  The answer is “because they can.”

“Why are young drivers so impatient?” The answer is “because they’re in a hurry to get where ever, even if it’s to their own funeral.”

About pedestrians:  We think we have the worse pedestrians in L.A. County.

They cross against traffic, They cross when the light is red. They will even cross the street diagonally. Okay, they are guilty as charged.

I remember one occasion when I witnessed a pedestrian crossing Atlantic and Garvey. He ran across the street diagonally, waving his arms. He was trying to catch the MTA bus that was getting ready to go. The person made it across the street, much to the relief of all the drivers who watched the drama unfold.

What about U-turns? Those are my pet peeves. Some drivers have never driven a street that wasn’t designed for a U-turn.  Garvey Boulevard is probably the best example. If there isn’t a “no U-turn” sign posted, it is fair game.

I was in a turn pocket the other day when the car in front of me made a U-Turn.  He made a very slow and wide turn and, without thinking, I went ahead and made my “normal” left turn. As a result, I undercut the other car and the driver had to abort the U-turn and was stuck in the intersection.

I didn’t mean to do it. I was just moving ahead because of on coming traffic.

The moral of this story is that it’s really easy to blame our local drivers. But it is the same everywhere – except in Italy, where I am told drivers are really terrible and have no mercy for pedestrians.

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