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Can anyone around here drive?

David Suffia David Suffia

My wife and I moved to Hendersonville a year ago and have found this to be a friendly little city that's easy to live in.

I do have one complaint. I've traveled and driven in cities large and small across the United States, from Seattle to Minneapolis, Chicago, Vermont and upstate New York. San Francisco to Los Angeles and San Diego. In Dallas, Houston and Orlando. St. Louis to Philadelphia, Omaha and rural Alabama.
And the worst drivers I've ever encountered, by far, are in Western North Carolina.
Not a single day goes by that I don't have other motorists come at me from the opposite direction driving on or across the centerline.
I see people run red lights all the time. They make sudden turns without signaling. They pull out in front of oncoming traffic without warning. Sometimes, if they miss a turn, they just stop dead in traffic, then try to make an illegal U-turn.
I've never seen so many people camp out in the passing lane of a four-lane highway, driving 15 or 20 miles under the speed limit and refusing to move over. And I've never seen so many idiots tailgating on freeways, worse than I've seen in Los Angeles commuter traffic.
I've heard lots of other people complain about the lousy drivers here too. Some of them blame the poor driving habits on elderly drivers, and I do see a lot of white-haired motorists doing dumb and dangerous things on our streets. But I'm 69, and I don't drive like that. Being elderly doesn't mean being stupid.
I've heard others blame it on Florida residents who are here visiting or who spend part of the year here. Really? Are Florida drivers really that bad? I've driven in Florida and don't recall the silly things I see here.
Is it the narrow roads here that lack shoulders that cause people to drive badly? Is it something in the water that makes motorists nutty?
Whatever it is, it's scary. I'm surprised the highway death toll isn't higher.
Stay in your own lane. Try to stay at least close to the speed limit. Use the turn signals your car is equipped with. Get out of the passing line when you're not passing. Don't tailgate. You know, the simple stuff that high school students are taught in Driver's Ed.
Geez, it isn't that hard.

David Suffia, a former reporter, columnist and editorial writer for The Seattle Times and a retired public relations director with the Boeing Company, lives in Hendersonville.