Before I moved to Dickinson, ND, I lived in Omaha on Northwest Radial Hwy., a thoroughfare that screeches in a curvy diagonal from 72nd St. to 46th St. where it splits–one leg Military Ave, the other straight south until Radial becomes North Saddle Creek Road. From there, Dodge and head east to downtown Omaha and Old Market. The triple-paned windows and the steel door of my condo insulated the interior enough that traffic on that Hwy. outside didn’t bother me much. Not even a hum. In fact much quieter than the ringing in my ears that I endure constantly–I’m waiting until I go deaf.
I’ve heard accidents. I even had one on Radial when I was stupid enough to park in front of my condo, even though parking was allowed. Around midnight, one drunk woman rammed into the back of my Diamante and smashed its rear end. Not totaled, but it should have been. Someone witnessed the accident, wrote down her license number, and she was arrested within a half hour at her home by the Omaha police. Yes, she paid my deductible.
One of the benefits of living in a big city is that most people who drive know the rules, or else. You merge by matching your speed to the cars in the adjacent lane of the highway, you signal, you come to a stop at stop signs when you’re suppose to, mainly because not doing so often does lead to accidents.
This morning I took my daughter to work in downtown Dickinson, a mere mile and a half of driving. On the way there, two women, each in an SUV, broke traffic rules. I’ve read somewhere that a driver breaks a traffic rule on the average every 20 minutes. It took me five minutes at the most to drive that mile and a half and five minutes back. Not 20. The first woman in the blue SUV was a half block away heading north on 3rd Ave. from 1st St. when the light at 2nd St. and 3rd Ave. turned yellow. All other traffic had crossed the intersection. Normally when that occurs the driver in the passing lane miraculously gets to turn left. (There’s no left turn signal at that intersection and there should be.) But I didn’t turn left for the woman in blue did not slow down. In fact she speeded up in an attempt to cross the intersection in the yellow, but she did not, forcing me to turn left when the light was red. I know that she was thinking she’s late for work for maybe she was employed at one of the companies north of Wal-Mart. Who knows what her reason was, but she had one, or else it was complete arrogance and a howdareyoustopme on her part.
Now, I can handle one incident like that every 20 minutes, and not get riled, for shit happens and people make mistakes, but two?
The one in between the first and the second I’m not going to count because it’s a North Dakota law I think for all small towns, at least for this one, for I’ve seen the yellow signs in the middle of intersections to remind drivers that pedestrians have the right of way, no matter if there is a stop sign or not, no matter if they are jaywalking or not. Two young women jabbering did not even look at the traffic to the right or to the left before they crossed the street going south down from the library. I saw them and stopped, which I was supposed to do. But considering that Dickinson now has a critical mass of drivers not from around here and a highly critical increase in traffic, that law needs to be rethought. Of course after the second boom, there will be plenty of space to cross any street.
Then at the intersection one block east of Gate City Bank, a woman in a red SUV south of the intersection but heading north turned left right in front of me, causing my daughter to brace herself. I screeched to a stop. I swore. The man driving the delivery truck in the line after her moved up and I crossed the intersection for I had the right of way.
Ok, I get it, defensive driving is a must here in Dickinson, especially on 2nd Street going east off 3rd. Last summer a woman in a grey SUV zoomed across the 2nd Ave and 2nd St. intersection going south, and I screeched to a stop going west–I had the right of way again. There have been many, many other incidents that I alone have witnessed.
You can’t tell me that those three drivers were not from Dickinson. The odds are not in your favor–I’ve almost done reading The Hunger Games. One at the most from out of town, considering statistical odds. So what to do?