It has been raining here in Central Florida the past couple of days. I like rain…and we really need it to refill the aquifer that has been drained dry by all of the transplants who come to Florida seeking sun and a lack of state taxes. The issue with rain in Florida is that it amplifies the effects of the bad drivers that permeate the area. When it rains, the roads get slippery, black ice style. Unfortunately, instead of slowing down and being more cautious drivers, they speed up in Central Florida when it rains.
On my way to work this morning, it was raining pretty heavily. As a result, I was going about 5mph below the speed limit of 45. No less than six cars passed me like I was standing still. They had to be going 70+, and this is a residential area. One car cut me off and then came to a sudden stop and turned down a side street. Luckily I have good brakes and tires; otherwise, I would have smashed into this guy. Drivers around here always go 15-30 over the speed limit.
Since I am on the topic of challenged drivers…let’s talk about stop signs. Perhaps it is the language barrier or a lack of education. Maybe many Central Florida drivers do not understand the word STOP. But shouldn’t they understand the universal symbology of a red octagonal sign? The fact is, people in Central Florida have a nasty habit of ignoring stop signs. They just plow right through them. Either they knowingly ignore them or they cannot understand what the signs mean. Case in point–I was driving to work in 2006 and a woman went through a stop sign going about 45mph and plowed right into the front end of my new (at the time) SUV. She was incredulous and said she never saw the stop sign. The funny part is she was coming out of the apartment complex where she lived. How could she not know there was a stop sign there?
I see it every day. Yesterday, when I dropped off my stepdaughter for her guitar lessons, a woman nearly drove right through me in a nearby shopping plaza. It was a 4-way stop. Maybe she did not understand the concept of a 4-way stop? Her car never even came to a stop! And where are the cops when these people are blowing through stop signs? They are out giving speeding tickets to people on the inflated toll roads of course!
Perhaps part of the problem is the Florida drivers license exam. What used to be a thick book of traffic rules when I was a teen has been replaced with a flimsy magazine, replete with advertisements. Test-takers are lined up cattle style along library-height tables and the exams are administered en masse. Cheating is rampant and ignored. Possibly even expected. The driving portion of the test has also been dumbed down in Florida. Parallel parking is no longer a requirement. 3 point turns are no longer a requirement. They simply test the drivers ability to make turns and stop. Is it no wonder that people cannot comprehend something as simplistic as a stop sign?
Pondering this more than I really should, perhaps the problem may be that everyone is in such a hurry. But how much time could it take to at least come to a rolling stop at a stop sign? Yeah, it must be that people just don’t understand the word STOP.