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Time to end bad driver behavior around Brandon and South Shore

On Christmas Eve, the Seffner Walmart parking lot looked exactly like what you might imagine.

Minutes before closing, shopping carts dotted the asphalt, cars zig-zagged in every direction as harried shoppers desperately searched for spots.

Pedestrians looked like they were playing Frogger as they walked in and out of the store.

At the front of the lot, a man in a pickup set his turn signal and patiently waited for a couple to back out of a prime spot.

The woman behind him, however, possessed no patience. She leaned on the car horn like a drunkard trying to keep her balance.

Then she stuck her head out the car window and hurled a stream of obscenities at a decibel level that violated the county ordinance.

"Move your car," she repeatedly screamed, peppering her words with f-bombs.

So much for peace and goodwill toward men.

Sure, the stress of last-minute holiday shopping may have taken her anger and annoyance to an uncommon level, but if she wanted to beat Santa home, she had six full hours.

No, this brand of road rage has become all too familiar in the area and it's unacceptable.

As much as I love living in the Brandon area, the bad behavior of some of our drivers remains one of the community traits I long to see change.

Riding right on top of someone's rear bumper, flashing the high-beam headlights like you're on the Autobahn and zooming past average drivers on serene two-lane streets goes against everything our suburban culture should represent.

Unless you're driving a fire truck.

Life is supposed to be slower out here. We live in the South Shore and Brandon area to escape hustle and bustle, not have it re-created on roads better suited for horse-drawn carriages.

Yes, we need widening projects on some of our major arteries, but that's to heighten safety and improve traffic flow, not to turn our streets into the Daytona 500.

And what's the rush? Sure, a driver may get distracted at an intersection and momentarily sit still on a green light, but that doesn't mean you need to start yelling like you're rushing to church because the world's coming to an end.

Instead of questioning the driver's parentage, a polite tap of the car horn will suffice.

Sometimes, over-eager drivers will speed past me on Kings­way Avenue as if they're burdened by some medical emergency. Yet they always seem to be driving north — away from Brandon Regional.

Look, unless your pregnant wife, mom or daughter is in the backseat and her water has broken, there is no need to pass people on two-lane streets. Not only is it irritating, but it's dangerous and it's pointless.

On Kingsway between U.S. 92 and State Road 60, there are seven traffic lights and a four-way stop. When one of these speed demons zooms by, I maintain my normal "drive-like-a-parent" pace and invariably catch up with the hot-rodder at each light.

But it's not just about being annoyed. Aggressive driving ratchets up the potential for accidents and fatalities. People don't need to lose their lives driving down to Publix for a gallon of milk or taking their sons to Little League practice.

A lot of these profane screamers seem to take some perverse pleasure in intimidating folks who lack the disposition or desire to confront their tormentors.

But one of these days, they're going to shout at the wrong person. Some mild-mannered guy will snap (remember the Michael Douglas movie Falling Down?), or they will clash with someone equally intense and out of control.

Then we'll publish one of those sad stories about a senseless tragedy that could have been avoided. Let's not wait for that to occur to become more courteous on the road.

Drive like every day is Christmas.

That's all I'm saying.

Time to end bad driver behavior around Brandon and South Shore 01/06/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:49pm]
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