Friday, June 4, 2010

The First (of many) Scofflaws Report

Shockingly, it actually took a couple of days of this blog's existence before we have the first set of scofflaw reports -- of course, when the dam DID break, it broke multiply.

The first set of three incidents, all interrelated, occurred on the trip home from work -- Thursday night, approximately 8:30 pm.

The issues began coming across North View, and waiting to turn left onto 197 north. An obviously ditracted cell phone using driver was driving without awareness of speed or lane. After I passed, legally, heading north on 197, the car sped up to go around and pass me back, cutting in front of me for good measure at the Kenhill light. This was a White GT, MD Tag 2FTV42. Adding to the fun, apparently STILL on the cell phone, as we approached the red light at 450, this vehicle was still directly in front of me in the left northbound lane, then swerved into the left turn lanes, and then swerved back into my lane, almost clipping me. It appeared that there might have been a change in travel plans to continue chasing after the minivan flyer, as all THREE of these knuckleheads exploded away from the 450 light as it changed.

Meanwhile, as we waited at the traffic light after the Rt 50 flyover, where the unnecessary extra left lane becomes the left turn lane into Collington, just as the light went green, one of these flyers came roaring through the intersection in that left lane, at excessive speed, and quickly cut off the lead driver in the left lane, and THEN cut over again because there were fewer cars in the right lane at the red light at Kenhill, ending up directly ahead of our cell-phone talking distraction case. This minivan, MD Tag 331M738clearly was the most aggressive driver of the bunch, although all three deserved to be cited.

As if having those two in front of me wasn't bad enough, thankfully the single car ahead of both of them was quick on the draw, but not excessive, forcing speed demon to stay behind her. However, the clown in the left hand lane next to the cell-phone bandit in the GT refused to yield on the merge, but also refused to go past, until after we were down to a single lane. His failure to yield was every bit as dangerous as the GT's. He was driving a Mitsubishi Gallant, MD tag 6BFG45.

Then, around 12:40 today, driving from picking up my car after an oil change and some minor repairs, I had just made the turn from Stonybrook onto Belair to go across Kenhill and head over to 197 and the office. As I did, coming out of that next right hand side street, without even slowing down at the stop sign before turning, a white Chevy conversion van, MD Tag 765M104, forced me to slow down to avoid running into him. He then, of course, proceeded to turn left, without benefit of signal, onto Kenhill. As I followed behind him at 25 mph, he pulled steadily away from me the entire length of the street, so I was amused to pull in behind him with his "Real Men Love Jesus" bumper sticker, and laugh to myself that a) he STILL wasn't getting there any quicker than I was, and b) WWJS to someone parading his name around and behaving this selfishly and poorly?

But the most bizarre incident of the week, by far, came shortly after that, as my wife and I drove into the Town Center for lunch at Panera's. In the fire lane behind Pizzeria Uno, and significantly blocking the crosswalk, pathway, AND fire lane, was an oversized refrigerated 18 wheeler, engine running. When we came out after eating, 30 minutes later, it was still there. I couldn't help but notice that it would have been almost impossible for the driver to have gotten out of his cab, so close was his door to the crosswalk sign. As I recorded his information (Northstar US Food Services, PA Tag AF-45069), I noticed standing by his marked car directly in front of us a Prince George's uniformed officer, name tag Benson. When I first asked him if this was legal, he said he thought the guy was making a delivery. When I countered that he had been there for 30 minutes, he acknowledged that he was aware of it, and went through all the motions of preparing to write up what he described as a "$500 ticket."

I thanked him and walked away towards our car. As we got to our car, I noticed someone come out and open up the back of the truck, and almost simultaneously, saw Office Benson return to his lady friend at his car. As we left the parking lot, we pulled around, so I could let him know there was now someone at the truck.

At this point, he explained to me that he had been told, presumably by the manager at Uno's, that the driver of the truck had fallen off the back earlier, and had to be taken to the hospital, that police had responded earlier to that incident, and everyone was aware of the circumstances. He also mentioned that the cab was locked with the engine running to keep the refrigeration going.

As we drove away, I pondered to myself, still, how that cab door could have been so close to the sign. But then I started thinking about the story. On the assumption that the driver would NOT routinely, in the Bowie Town Center, lock the cab with the keys in the ignition while making a simple delivery. someone had gotten his keys, or at least locked the cab for him after the accident. WHY THEN, if they knew they had a truck there for the long term, and they had both the keys and access to the cab, was no effort made to pull it forward the hundred or so feet, into the livery area next to Panera's, clearing both the fire lane and the crosswalk, instead of leaving this dual threat in place?

On the one hand, I hope the story is NOT accurate, and that there were no injuries to anyone, and that this is merely another case of excuse making substituting for law-enforcement. More likely, this is EXACTLY how things went down, and I hope the driver's injuries are not serious. However, in EITHER case, the handling of this matter leaves questions about the efficacy and concern for pedestrians and drivers in the Town Center. I realize that technically, that is private property. However....

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