Some days I really have to question the driving ability of people in our community — particularly when it comes to yield signs.
Earlier this week, I was on my way to work and rounding the curve by the Food-N-Fuel when an inattentive driver sped through the 10th Street yield sign and had to quickly swerve to miss me.
“Can you not see the bleepity-bleep yield sign?” I hollered, as if the driver of the other car could hear me. Of course he or she couldn't hear me, and as is always the case, I didn't think of laying on the car horn until I was at the next stop sign — far too late for it to have done any good.
I probably should have been thanking the man upstairs for protecting me from a crash, but instead I was cursing the long-gone driver within the confines of my car. What can I say? I grew up with three brothers and an Army veteran who knew his share of colorful language — in English and Deutsch!
With the number of times I’ve seen drivers not even attempt to slow down as they cross from 10th Street to 10th Avenue, rather than take the turn down Diagonal Road, I’m amazed I haven’t seen a crash there yet.
I’m convinced a good share of people don’t understand what a yield sign means.
According to the Minnesota Driver’s Manual, "Yield" means to “Slow down or stop, if necessary. Give the right of way to all other vehicles and pedestrians, and wait until it is safe to proceed.”
In other words, if traffic with the right of way is approaching, your yield sign means stop.
Last summer, I saw a car speed through the yield sign at Lake Street and Second Avenue — by the bicycle bridge — and the driver had the audacity to honk at the car he or she nearly sideswiped that was travelling down Second Avenue, the very vehicle that had the right of way.
I am, by no means, a perfect driver. I’ve gotten the horn a time or two, and the sharpness of the honk is one of the most unpleasant sounds there is.
That reminds me of a story the Star Tribune wrote a few years back, “Minnesota driver’s dilemma: To honk or not to honk.” It turns out my aversion to the car horn is directly related to the cultural norms passed down from my ancestors (my mom’s always polite attitude; not my dad’s tendency to cuss!)
In the story, Nichole Morris, a researcher who studies driving behavior, said, “We have quite a few people here with Nordic European ancestry, and it’s just not acceptable to rage on other people the way it might be in Mediterranean or some Asian countries, and honking is an act of rage.”
Well, my cussing is an act of rage, too, but the offending driver can’t hear that.
Perhaps a long press of the car horn wouldn’t be so bad, especially if the sound emitted was more like the aah-oogah emitted from the car horn of a 1920s Model T. Polite enough? I think so!
I won't be changing out the sound of my car horn, but if I can remember to hit the horn the next time someone doesn’t think they need to yield the right of way, perhaps I'll feel a little better for giving them the equivalent of a string of cuss words.