Distracted driving

11 years ago

Though necessary for Aroostook County folk to accomplish much of anything, long hours on the road lead to a bit of complacency, perhaps, with regard to hazards that crop up. We drive in blizzards that ought to keep sensible people at home and indoors. We admonish each other to “Watch out for Moose!” as we head off into the twilight of mid-winter’s mid-afternoon. Well meant, this is a ridiculous idea in that you never really see them before they are framed by your windshield in terrifying detail.
In spring, whole sections of roads in low places sometimes become river-bottom for a time during snow-melt and spring flooding. We clench our teeth to try to keep from biting through our tongues in the bone-rattling waves of frost heaves. In spite of the technology that allows radio antennas to be buried in the windshield glass, Aroostook County cars often sport a wire antenna sprouting out of the roofline. This may be the difference between success and failure spotting entombed cars that disappear entirely from view in axle-snapping potholes that grow with each passing truck.
Only of late have the much discussed hazards of distracted driving meant anything more than dealing with what Mother Nature has dreamed up to keep our commute from becoming too hum-drum. For awhile, it was cell phones. If you followed someone who seemed to have a rather loose interpretation of where their vehicle’s path should be compared to the entire paved surface of the road or the value of maintaining a steady rate of travel, you could be relatively sure that when you finally(!) were able to pass, it would turn out that an extended conversation about something terribly important was taking attention from the task at hand for the driver you had been following mile after frustrating mile. When texting came along, it got worse. At least talking on the phone only removed one hand from the wheel and the mind? Well, at least the unseeing eyes were pointed in the right direction much of the time. The advent of texting has removed even that reassurance. It sometimes seems that texters are somehow collaborating to make your commute much harder than all the floods, snow storms, pot holes and other hazards put together! The thought comes to mind, “What the hey! It is 7 a.m. … they can’t all be drunk.” The thought labels you as an old person; you remember when you did not have to battle the challenges of invisibility to the texting motorists around you.
It would be nice to sit back, secure in some sort of moral superiority, if only because our old eyes and stiff thumbs “won’t go there.” We tell ourselves that by refusing to join the texting drivers, we are less likely to be a moose-sized accident waiting to happen.
However, to provide full disclosure, we must confess. We, too, are doing whatever we can to distract drivers passing the Aroostook Centre Mall parking lot. We, the members of the Presque Isle Farmers Market, want drivers to look over and say, “Hey, look … a Farmers Market!” We want you to see that there is meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy, eggs, flowers, jewelry, preserves, hand-crafted baskets and a whole darned apothecary sitting on the tarmac waiting for you to come take a look.
We show up every Saturday between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. We are delighted when we distract you enough that you come say hello. Just remember to signal that turn!
    This column is written by members of the Presque Isle Farmers’ Market. For more information, visit their website at https://sites.google.com/site/presqueislefarmersmarket/home.