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Missing “Sunday Drivers”

When I was a kid, we often piled in the car as a family on Sundays and drove aimlessly around Bradford County and the surrounding area, checking out back roads that we hadn’t been on in a while and looking for roadside ice cream shops that hadn’t closed yet. I was generally confused by the term “Sunday drivers,” but I supposed that it applied to us. I guess, to someone who needed to get somewhere in a hurry, we were a hindrance. In hindsight, however, we were at least moving in a reasonable and predictable manner. As an adult, I drive a lot, which never bothered me that much. I used to look at drive time as therapeutic. As long as traffic wasn’t too heavy, I would mull through the events of the day and the challenges ahead of me uninterrupted. I often solved situations that seemed much more cumbersome when I was sitting at my computer faced with them. I have also used a lot of drive time for prayer and self-reflection. Nowadays, I’m praying even more when I get behind the wheel, but not for the same reasons. I’m sorry to admit that I’m also just as likely now to use the Lord’s name in vain when I’m behind a driver that appears to believe that he or she is the only person on the road. I traverse Route 6 each day from Tunkhannock to Wyalusing and often on to Towanda, if not into the countryside. The trip from Tunkhannock to the Rocket-Courier office takes about 30 minutes, while the trip home averages 45 minutes, which I attribute to several factors: heavier traffic in the evening, less passing lanes, and more steep hills that require heavy trucks to slow down to 20 miles-per-hour. I think that I exercise a fair amount of patience when I am behind a truck or trucks going down a hill, but I admit that I anticipate passing lanes far in advance and am eager to make my move when the lane opens up. What gets my ire up is truck drivers who won’t move to the right to give me the opportunity to pass and drivers of cars who share my frustration but who don’t properly anticipate the passing lane or whose cars simply don’t have the power to pass a truck going up a hill. In a letter to editor this week, Stephanie Grohol explains that she and her husband were more or less bullied by the driver of a triple-hump tanker as they were turning on to Main Street in Rome. I experienced a similar situation in Herrickville two weekends ago when three dump trucks in a row came careening around a corner off the main road toward me as I approached the stop sign. Although, in my opinion, each of the drivers was going too fast, the first and third trucks hugged the corner tightly as they came through the intersection. The second truck, however, took an exceedingly wide turn, putting his vehicle completely into my lane and forcing me to throw my truck into reverse and drift back down the hill to avoid being hit. “Where does this idiocy end?” Stephanie asked in a segment of the letter that I saved specifically for this column. “It seems that (the drivers of) these gas trucks are arrogant and think that they own the road,” she added. Stephanie suggests that the gas companies and their trucks could be forced to leave if laws were passed to prevent their occupation of the county. She is not alone in seeking regulations on truck movement and gas drilling in general. At the April 7 Bradford County Commissioners meeting, Towanda resident Diane Siegmund recommended restricting truck traffic along Route 6 between Route 187 in Wysox and York Avenue in Towanda between 6 and 8 a.m. and 3 and 6 p.m. I can’t disagree that such a regulation would improve the traffic situation for Bradford County residents situated around the county seat, but I’m sorry to say that I don’t see it as a feasible or practical plan. The gas companies operate around the clock. Any disruption in their transit schedules would merely increase the traffic flow at other times of the day that residents along the Route 6 corridor would find objectionable. I’ve stayed at my cousin Cindy’s house on Route 6 in Wysox, and the trucks already run all night long, which makes sleeping without interruption difficult. Who knows? Maybe running long convoys of trucks up and down the highway during the night would result in a din akin to a lullaby, but I doubt it. The truth is that another bridge and bypass from Route 187 to South Towanda have become a necessity, and there’s little doubt in anybody’s minds that such a project needs to be put on the fast track if we are to see any improvement to the Wysox Impasse that currently exists. Our lawmakers should make a move on a new highway before too many businesses and homes in Wysox Township are sold and altered in any manner that might prevent construction on the properties. As for the truck drivers themselves, I am sure that there are many good drivers among them. “Good” in terms of how they handle the large vehicles and “good” in the sense of being respectful of other drivers on the road. It’s easy to say that all of the truck drivers are a bunch of arrogant jerks, but it seems that most of the times that I assume that the driver of the tanker or dump truck ahead of me is going to do something stupid, he proves me wrong and actually makes an effort to allow me to get by him and move along with my day. Unfortunately, a volley of one-finger salutes and cutting the truckers off at intersections and at the end of short passing lanes serves only to breed contempt on both sides. Such actions also add to the dangers that the increased amount of traffic already poses. The answer might lie in a combination of legislation to build more roadways and a concerted effort by the gas companies to remind their drivers, many of who are not native to the area, that a little more courtesy on their parts would go a long way toward alleviating some of the mounting frustration against gas drilling as a whole.

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