Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

On the road with distracted & dangerous drivers April 13, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,

TRAVELING ALONG 35E in the south metro recently, we pulled alongside an empty car carrier. My husband joked that he should move over and drive our van up the ramp and hitch a ride.

In this photo taken of the front passenger side mirror, you can see how close the tailgater is to our van.

In this photo taken of the front passenger side mirror, you can see how close the tailgater is to our van.

Some two hours later, retracing our route, a car followed us so close I thought it would drive up the rear of our van. We weren’t laughing. Such tailgating rates as irresponsible and dangerous.

I zoomed in on the tailgating driver who couldn't wait to get around us. I've obscured his license plate; lucky him.

I zoomed in on the tailgating driver who couldn’t wait to get around us. I’ve obscured his license plate; lucky him.

What’s so important that a driver must snug nearly as tight as a puzzle piece into another vehicle? Instead of waiting for Randy to move into the right lane when traffic conditions safely allowed, this driver tailgated us, then zoomed to the right around us, squeezing between our van and a car. I might have said something like idiot.

This week, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety is focusing on the dangers of distracted driving. More than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in this extra enforcement effort. In Moorhead, police officers have found an innovative way to catch drivers who are texting or otherwise engaging in dangerous behavior. They are riding in school buses, giving them a bird’s eye view into vehicles. How clever is that?

Tell me, what have you seen on the roadways that made you want to shout idiot?

How can we curb this ongoing problem of irresponsible and distracted driving that’s endangering, injuring and killing innocent people?

Ā© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


38 Responses to “On the road with distracted & dangerous drivers”

  1. Marneymae Says:

    people who cross double yellow lines to pass my car (going the speed limit) while heading up a hill (an extreme blind-spot zone), and also the tailgating when there’s traffic (and obviously no place to move or pass) makes me scream out far worse than the word “idiot”.
    really, it’s in the car when i’m driving that i have to practice the most patience, and in addition to that it’s also the space in which swear words & made-up swear words find there way into the world.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Having driven as much as I have over the years I have seen a lot of stupid things but I must admit I have been distracted at times myself. I really try to focus when I drive on what I am doing but if I am honest I know there are times when I am less than engaged as fully as I should be. I remember back to the time when I was driving with young ones in the back seat—that is a huge distraction no matter how you try to not allow them to be. I think we all just need to be considerate and aware and I am trying harder to do that. Glad your tailgater moved on. Some people did not have good drivers ed teachers like I did I guess. šŸ™‚

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    I see all kinds of weird and idiotic stuff. So many people on their phones.

  4. The things I have witnessed driving down here have made me cringe more than once! I have avoided being involved in accidents with distracted drivers due to my awareness and wishing I have other sets of eyes in my head. The lady in front of me this morning on my way to work was all over the road due to her need to apply makeup while driving 40-45 mph.

    Love the idea of law enforcement riding in school buses – genius! I think one way to curb this issue is at least stiffer penalties if not eventually stricter laws. However people are going to do what they want to do behind the wheel, which can be a very SCARY thought! I do my part by buckling up, being aware and focusing on driving when out on the roads.

    Happy Day – Enjoy šŸ™‚

    • It sounds like you are doing everything you can to protect yourself.

      I, too, consider the school bus ride-along a genius idea. Besides catching drivers, the officers are teaching students a lesson.

      Applying make-up at the speed? Crazy, just crazy.

    • The best training I have taken pertaining to driving was the defensive driving training when I worked for state government. It teaches awareness, safety and how to drive among and around hazards, weather conditions, semis, etc. Plus my father was big on training when it come to vehicles and the operation of equipment. I went to bicycle training and safety as well as snowmobile and had a permit on my driver’s license to operate a snowmobile.

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    My three favorite bumper stickers read:

    “Sorry for driving so close in front of you”


    “Do you follow Jesus this close?”


    “You like to tailgate, I like to shoot people. We all have our thing.”

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    Just yesterday, while driving myself, quite uncomfortably with a lower back injury, to the chiropractor, I was first passed by a woman in a Mercedez, weaving in and out of both highway lanes while applying makeup. Not much further down the road, a couple of guys coming out of the parking area of a local casino shot out onto the highway in front of me, careening into the left lane to avoid me hitting them. I wondered what made the driver think he was avoiding an accident by choosing to dash into the far lane I was not in, yet pulling out in front of me! As I slowed at the first stoplight into town, on either side of me were people texting on their phones while they waited. I have decided not to get twisted up over other’s driving habits and just do my best to make sure I’m a conscientious driver. I do a lot of praying too!! šŸ˜€

    • Wow, that’s a lot of examples in a short time frame. I am thankful you made it safely to your appointment.

      Those are good suggestions: to focus on your driving habits and to pray.

      I pray also that your back heals soon. šŸ™‚

  7. Dee Bjork Says:

    It is the same old thing. Personal responsiblity for your behavior. Find the joy in your life and share it. I think people who use their automobiles as ammunition are unhappy and out of touch. I wish them an opportunity for change.

  8. Everyone is always in a hurry, except the guy In front of you, it would seem!

  9. Carol King Says:

    Your article brings back memories of really scary close-calls due to distracted, indifferent, maybe even “idiotic” drivers.
    And more than a close-call, a few years ago my sister and her husband were t-boned when the driver of a car which was towing a motor home ran a red light. He admitted that he was “just trying to beat the stoplight.” And really, no amount of attentive driving keeps you and others safe with drivers like that on the road.

  10. Don Says:

    Here in Alaska they run television adds promoting you to call 9111 if you see an unsafe motorist or situation. BUT that’s kind of a “catch 22” situation. Use your cell phone to solve one problem but yet create a second problem by using the cell phone while driving. Works if you have a passenger make the call but the driver?

    I believe that the penalty for using a cell phone while driving should be as severe as a DUI. Impound the phone, three days in jail and a 500 dollar fine for the first offence. I am hard core on driving while using a cell phone, too many close calls I guess. I heard that some states have talked about giving the troopers the authority to stop a driver for using a phone, take the cell phone and in front of the driver smash it!

    Putting on makeup while driving, really? Perhaps they wish to look good for the ambulance drivers after they crash!

  11. Don Says:

    You can tell that I have a real distaste for cell phones. Studies have shown that using a cell phone while driving is as bad as drunk driving. The human mind does not do multitasking studies have shown. It can only perform a task one at a time, any other task it tries to do requires shutting one down to perform the other. Perhaps I am in a bad mood about cell phones having just sat at a 4way stop waiting for the other car ( who had the right of way) to move. After waiting for them to move and noticing they were on a cell phone I honked the horn to get their attention and they gave me the inappropriate hand sign like it was my fault. Good thing I don’t give in to road rage!

  12. Pretty sure that I recently said something about our neighbor kid speeding by with his motorcycle every five minutes. I hate to say it but kids take dumber risks in the spring

  13. readmyphotos Says:

    Tailgaters are the cause of most accidents on the highways and in the cities on the streets.

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