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What stop means to some drivers: Speed & Travel Over Pedestrians
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The caller was to the point: “Manteca is such a wonderful town but could you tell me why the drivers seem to be so rude?”

Good question.

Manteca hasn’t cornered the market for rude drivers but we seem to have more than out fair share of etiquette-challenged motorists.

There are times it seems it might be a lack of comprehension. The other day while walking across town I counted no less than three motorists who apparently think that STOP is an acronym for Speed & Travel Over Pedestrians. I wasn’t crossing the street at the time. I was just observing people who simply took their pedal off the gas and then hit it again while blowing through stop signs. That doesn’t count many more motorists who performed California rolling stops. While that fabled maneuver is illegal,at least they hit the brakes to the point they are almost stopping.

Other times I believe many motorists are nearsighted which explains why they insist on traveling three feet or so off your rear bumper. Those same drivers have been known to signal to you that they’re No. 1. I get that about once a year or so traveling across Highway 99 southbound on Cottage Avenue when I refuse to use going downhill as an excuse to go above the posted speed limit.

As for the drivers who see red and step on it as the traffic light changes perhaps they are simply overzealous bullfighting fans.

Then there are those who have watched reruns of “Fast and Furious” one too many times. They apparently live in a world where traveling fast and cutting others off is the way that they display their manhood and self-worth.

Some of my favorite motorists are the ones who believe that somewhere buried in the California Constitution is a passage that gives them the right to park too close to corners, to crowd driveways when they park, and to park in front of fire hydrants. Those who park in handicapped zones when they have no business doing so actually do have a disability as they have no heart.

Then there is the theory that one of the reasons drivers are rude is fostered by the Wild, Wild West of traffic engineering that Manteca seemed to have embraced for years. Speed has been encouraged by wide and straight major thoroughfares with no center islands. You can go down busy corridors like Yosemite Avenue on both sides of Highway 99 as well as North Main Street and see where the First Commandment of Manteca Traffic Planning - thou shall be able to turn left wherever you want - is in full play. Heaven forbid if access points were limited to reduce movements across traffic on thoroughfares where nobody seems to follow the speed limit.

Of course we can’t forget the multi-taskers who do everything behind the wheel except pay attention to traffic. You’ve seen them in action. They have cell phones to their ears, drink and food in hand, and have been known to read items while they drive. Over the years there have been sightings of women putting on make-up as they drive down the street and one instance of a man actually shaving although it was in slow moving traffic on Main Street through downtown. Given the fact many people practically live in their cars on long commutes each day to the Silicon Valley it is a given they may start mistaking a vehicle for a kitchen and bathroom on wheels.

And then there’s my favorite: The see no flashing red light, hear no screaming siren drivers. One sighting about eight years ago involved a driver continuing merrily along his way for about three blocks on West Yemenite going the speed limit. Behind him was a Manteca Fire engine with red lights flashing and sirens wailing with that sound punctuated by the blasting of its horn. Poetic justice one day would be to see those drivers - after they delayed a fire engine - pull up in front of their home a few minutes later and see it ablaze with firefighters scrambling to put it out.

I’ve got to be honest. For all of the times some idiot cuts in front of me while I’ll almost halfway across the street in a crosswalk, have a jerk tailgate me or count my blessings I hesitated a second or two longer as my light changed green after seeing some maniac blow through a red light, Manteca does have more than its share of responsible and attentive drivers.

For every time someone has cut in front of me while crossing the street I’ve had 10 others who wave me on even though I have stopped at the curb’s edge. There are also a lot of people out there who don’t act like morons behind wheels. If that wasn’t the case with the way some people drive in this town, Main Street and Yosemite Avenue would look like the aftermath of a demolition derby on a daily basis.