Yinz Ain’t Drivin’ Right


I saw this video thanks to Twitter this morning… I’m pretty sure it’s the one I’ve heard talked about as being a clip on GMA yesterday.  It sparked awe in me, and perhaps obviously this point, a rant.

I’m not even sure where to begin.  I mean, I’ve been amazed for years about the lack of caution during hazardous road conditions from my fellow southwestern PA motorists… but this is beyond amazement.  If I were in charge of public service announcements, my #1 topic/message would be that “AWD/4WD may help you go, but it doesn’t help you stop“… and to leave space between you & the vehicle in front of (or beside) you.  Too many people just drive like nothing’s going on out of the norm as far as road conditions during inclement weather.   Then again, you have the other end of the extreme… people driving like they’re afraid, and being so ‘cautious’ that they’re a danger to others.  But that’s all general.  I’d love to just point out the insanity in this video.

  1. The White SUV – Okay.  I live not too far from here.  It’s obviously quite a hilly area like most of southwestern Pennsylvania.  I would avoid hills like this if at all possible when I knew there were icy or even snowy road conditions…  To a certain extent in these neighborhoods all routes out involve some sort of hill, but there are less “extreme” grades around.  I wonder what sparked the camera man to start taping at this point?  What auto-acrobatics led up to a “wow, I should get this on video” moment?  Think all 3 cars there were damaged, or just the 1st 2?
  2. The Speedy Sedan – Seriously?  Did you just miss the twirling SUV… and the minivan that apparently decided to join the chaos only to make a futile attempt to clear a path for your louge-run?  It almost looked like someone stepped on the gas trying to go down that hill, Speed Racer.  I’d love to see the look on your insurance agent’s face when they see this pinball-machine like run, assuming you have insurance.  I hope you had a change of underwear in the car with you.  I feel bad for the poor guy who probably thought his car was safely parked in the front yard away from road hazards flanked by other vehicles… unless he ended up there just like this guy.  What flew to the left there that started out behind the parked black SUV?  A tree?
  3. The Concerned Citizen – Yeah, I get that you’re trying to help, but that may not be the best place to walk… in case, you know… someone else were dumb enough to slide down that hill.  He’ll re-appear later with a construction cone.
  4. Sedan #2 – Adds injury to insult while you’re distracted by Brian Boitano trying to cross the road.
  5. SUV #2 – Won’t be outdone… it’s a almost a sedanwich, but it turns into a nice little road block.  Maybe this will serve as a warning to other would-be travelers to turn around and go home?
  6. Sedan #3 – This driver likes a challenge, and decides to plow through the blockade just like in all those movies on Spike.  Another bright idea is to get small children out of the car and on to the icy road.

I’d love to read your thoughts.

(Video & News story also available here.)

How to walk to your car in a parking lot: A public service announcement


There’s a problem I’ve noticed over the years since I first got my driver’s license.  It’s ridiculous, rampant, and totally uncalled for.  It doesn’t have as much to do with driving as it does walking, but I consider it a road-related  issue.

People don’t know how to walk in parking lots.  They have this “pedestrian has the right of way” mentality that has inexplicably warped into a strange sense of entitlement and devilish pleasure in making you the motorist yield to their ambling nonchalance.

Below, I have an illustration (thanks to Google Maps) of the new Market District parking lot in Robinson.  Please take a moment to study & understand before you move on to the next paragraph.

How to walk across a parking lot.
WALK IN A STRAIGHT LINE, NOT AT AN ANGLE.

I get worked up about this quite easily (obviously I guess), and my thoughts are all over the place…  so I’ll try to make my points concise with the aid of a bulleted list.  (I have blogged about this before too, if you find that you need further reading.) I really would like to start a discussion on this in the comments if you’re so inclined.

  • When there’s a cross-walk on the ground, use it. I understand that the crosswalk isn’t a magical safe-zone, and that jaywalking laws are rarely enforced in Southwestern PA… but it’s there for a reason;  So you can move across the road in an organized and quick fashion in a designated spot.   Yes, the parking lot is a potential mine-field of car vs. person vs. shopping cart accidents, but you can help minimize the danger by using cross-walks… and drivers will know exactly where and when to have a heightened awareness.
  • Walk in a 90° angle (or close to it if at all possible) when crossing the road. This may seem stupid, but if you look at my beautiful illustration above… you can see that a person walking a green path would move across the road much more quickly than the same person walking at the same speed using a red path.  Using the green path reduces wait time (and thus aggravation) for the driver trying to get into or out of the store.
  • Walk one one side or the other of each row. The beauty of this one is that you have a choice.  You can walk on the left or the right.  JUST. DON’T. WALK. DOWN. THE. MIDDLE. These are the  most annoying people.  There’s typically room for two cars to pass each other when moving in opposite directions, and a little extra walking room in most parking lots.  When you walk right down the middle of the aisle, you make all of this room disappear.

Focusing mostly on the middle-of-the-lane walkers, but also on the anglers, and the “too cool for the crosswalk”-ers, I’d just like to comment on the types of people that I believe they may be.

First, there are the truly oblivious.  I believe this to be the smallest sect of the parking lot meanderites.  I think some people are just really not all that aware of their surroundings, and have no comprehension of the havoc that they wreak around themselves.  (Arguably,  stopping time in a parking lot is not exactly “wreaking havoc”, but it sure bites my ass.) These people are just like Mr. Bean, and since Mr. Bean is somewhat of a lovable character, I can forgive these people.  If you know one of them, please tell them about parking lot urgency.  If you don’t know one of them… walk more quickly, in straight angles, in designated areas, and close to the cars in parking lots.  (Because you are one of them.)

Then we have category #2.  The entitled. They’re a pedestrian.  They always have the right of way, and that’s it.  In their minds, anyway.  I’d like these people to see what Pennsylvania law has to say

Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, contains the laws which govern the operation of vehicles on Pennsylvania roads.

Chapter 35: SPECIAL VEHICLES AND PEDESTRIANS
Subchapter C: Rights and Duties of Pedestrians

Section 3541. Obedience of pedestrians to traffic-control devices and regulations
(a) Traffic control devices.—A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of a police officer or other appropriately attired person authorized to direct, control or regulate traffic.

(b) Traffic and pedestrian-control signals.—Local authorities by ordinance may require pedestrians to obey traffic and pedestrian-control signals as provided in sections 3112 (relating to traffic-control signals) and 3113 (relating to pedestrian-control signals).

Section 3542. Right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks.
(a) General rule.—When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

(b) Exercise of care by pedestrian.—No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute a hazard.

and…

Section 3543. Pedestrians crossing at other than crosswalks.
(a) General rule.—Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a crosswalk at an intersection or any marked crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(b) At pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing.—Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(c) Between controlled intersections in urban district.—Between adjacent intersections in urban districts at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

(d) Crossing intersection diagonally.—No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices or at the discretion of a police officer or other appropriately attired person authorized to direct, control or regulate traffic. When authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the signal pertaining to the crossing movements.

And the best part…

Section 3552. Penalty for violation of subchapter.
Any pedestrian violating any provision of this subchapter is guilty of a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $5.

Interesting, no?  I’m not sure if these apply any differently in a parking lot, as it’s probably private property… but I’d love to see an officer out there passing out $5 tickets for every butthole who steps boldly out in front of a moving car with the incorrect assumption that “pedestrians always have the right of way”.  Why not?  I mean, they’re cracking down on parking in the South Side after years of chaos.  Is this any less ridiculous?

The third and last group?  The spiteful. They know you’re anxious to get by, but they don’t care.  They derive pleasure in knowing that you’re most likely impatiently waiting to move forward at a speed that actually registers on your speedometer, but that they alone have the power to prevent that from happening.  Maybe they had a bad day and want to pass along the crappy karma.  Maybe they have a controlling spouse, boss, or family member, and this is how they lash out.  This is the group that turns to look at you, but continues to walk down the middle of a driving lane instead of moving to one side so you can get by.  This is the woman that stops mid-stride and mid-lane to dig through her purse for her car keys while you idle and boil.  This is the group of teenage boys that walks 4 wide and dresses “hard” like they from the streets thanks to mom’s credit card and Journey’s or Hot Topic.  This is the wide-angle walker who sees you approaching, but instead of walking straight across the lane quickly looks straight ahead in their “5 rows over from where they started” path.  They’re also the ones who let you follow them down the echelon of filled  of parking spaces during the holiday shopping season, and cut over to the next row or put bags in their car and proceed to walk right back where they came from without giving you the courtesy wave-off or  the universally understood over-exaggerated mouthing of “I’m not leaving” while shaking their head and pointing or waving their arms.  I suspect that they’re also the people who double-dip, don’t flush public toilets, and kick puppies.

That should just about cover it.  So please, pass this along so we can all get on the same page.