I took an E-ticket ride Thursday morning.
If you know what an E-ticket is, congratulations. You’ve survived 11 presidencies as well as Jerry Brown 1.0. and most of Jerry Brown 2.0 plus remember the word “Google” primarily graced comic pages as the last name of a character named Barney who was about as tech savvy as Snuffy Smith.
If you don’t, it doesn’t matter any way since the thrill of rides like the Matterhorn Bobsleds that you got access to at Disneyland with an E ticket before the one extortion price of $97.50 a day fits all would likely be lost on you while texting.
I buckled my seat belt and headed down South Main Street to the 120 Bypass on my way to Tracy.
Even before getting on the freeway version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Road I had a line cutter fly by me on the right even though I was in the far right lane as I was passing Wal-Mart
Since we live in Dodge City where anything goes while driving on the streets, the natives among as — as well as those that have spent 25 plus annual auto insurance renewals here — have learned to expect moronic bonehead driving moves.
But to make the streets a little saner there are a couple of points that perhaps someone at city hall will keep in mind after Manteca spends more than $2 million repaving Yosemite Avenue and Main Street later this year.
uStripe South Main Street in a manner where it is clear there is only two travel lanes. Perhaps a lot of slash markings after the turn into the Wal-Mart parking lot might help. Or, heaven forbid the city might do something that would really enhance safety and install an island allowing only right turns into the shopping center and right turns out as well instead of allowing uncivilized motorists the ability to blaze a third lane to significantly reduce safety.
uThe same goes for westbound Yosemite Avenue at the Powers Avenue intersection.
The fun Thursday began shortly after merging onto the 120 Bypass. Traffic suddenly started slowing down to almost a stop in both lanes before finally — for a brief few moments — actually stopping. Usually this signals an accident or rubbernecking at a car pulled off along the side of the road as if people have never seen cars pulled off along the side of the road before. It makes about as such sense as a dairy farmer driving down a highway and excitedly pointing out to their kid, “look, son, there’s a cow.”
But Thursday there were no traces of an accident or parked vehicle along the freeway.
And then it became apparent. The Bypass was being used for auditions for the Fast & Furious 9 movie. Two compact cars were weaving in and out of traffic. There was no police car in sight they weren’t trying to elude capture. Nor did it appear to be road rage. Instead they must have been loyal fans of either Grand Theft Auto (assuming they were born into a world that bytes into $799 apples instead of biting into 25 cent apples) or the old school Starsky & Hutch TV show.
At any rate it was soon obvious their erratic driving may have helped them shave seconds from their travel times but was forcing countless other drivers to lose even more time.
When I came to a complete stop for a second or two just before the Union Road off ramp, I glanced to my right for a moment and witnessed what I assume was a young man auditioning for Death Wish 4.
I’ve seen people text and drive before but if you told me you saw someone texting and driving on the 120 Bypass of all places I’d say you were crazy. No sane motorist would text and drive let alone do so on the stretch of freeway where a day can’t seem to go by without a rear-end collision is insanity redefined.
Did I mention the guy was driving behind a slow moving Save Mart big rig?
You can make all the improvements you want to the 120 Bypass but unless every driver has a clear understanding of the consequences of not driving like you should with your undivided attention on traffic and driving as if you are the only person on the road, then carnage will continue unabated.
If none of this moves you then let the money do the talking.
The National Safety Council puts the average economic costs of an incapacitating injury crash at $65,000, a non-incapacity injury crash at $21,000, and a possible injury crash at $11,900. The NSC places the average cost for each death in a vehicle crash at $1.13 million. Based on annual traffic crashes on the 120 Bypass that comes in at almost $25 million a year.
The 120 Bypass design is safe if everyone drove as if their life depends on it.
But since many drive the most accident plagued stretch of freeway in the Northern San Joaquin Valley as if they are trying to push the limits of playing a video game, the 120 Bypass will remain a very dangerous place.
On the flip side, at least Caltrans hasn’t incorporated lane markings — or lack thereof — as Manteca has to entice renegades to pass to the right of the far right lane of traffic at a high rate of speed.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.