Drivers need to slow down, even relax

Sometimes, a letter to the editor spotlights an issue that needs to be addressed on Kauai. The following from Donna Carsten is such a letter. Let’s read it:

To the driver on Kamalu Road who screamed at me to “Get off the road” this morning (and to all the others who have done so in the past):

I live on Kamalu Road. It is used as a bypass for Kapaa traffic, and those who travel it virtually never obey the posted 25 mph speed limit. The entire road is about 2 miles long. Exceeding the speed limit might save as much as a whole minute. Waiting for an elderly woman walking on the side of the road might cost you 20 seconds.

I am nearly 71 years old with hip and knee problems, so I need to be careful walking. There are no sidewalks on Kamalu, and the edges are muddy and full of puddles. I walk my dog every morning to and from the West Trail to Nou Nou. This morning, as I was waiting to cross the road (on the edge of it because the grass was wet, slippery and muddy) you had to wait for possibly 20 seconds for cars coming the other way.

As you accelerated past me, you yelled out, “Get off the road!” I can only ask — would you do that to your grandmother or your auntie? Do you scream at stopped school buses? Do you scream at bicyclists? Because I deserve the same consideration as they do. I live here, I pay taxes here and the roads are as much for me as for you. If there was a sidewalk, or a dry, safe place for me to walk, I would do so.

Until that happens, please stop and think. Is that 20 seconds more important than the possibility that I could fall and be seriously injured? I sincerely hope not.

You have to be an ignorant fool to yell at a 70-year-old woman walking on the road, or pretty much anyone walking on the road. As Donna points out, the driver might have lost 20 seconds he didn’t expect to lose that morning. Twenty seconds. Worth acting like an ass? To some people it is. Who doesn’t have time to slow down, show respect and be courteous to someone, particularly a kupuna? No one. But such incidents like this one involving Donna are routine.

Rude drivers in a hurry aren’t new. Kauai has more than its fair share of knuckleheads on the roads who must drive at least 15-20 miles per hour over the speed limit everywhere they go.

Drive on Kuhio Highway between Lihue and Kapaa. The speed limit is 40 mph. If you go 45-50, a large truck will soon be riding your tail. Not sure why police don’t just give out tickets there all day along. They could make enough money to fund their budget for a year.

The other day, a driver, clearly a tourist in a rental car, slowed for someone in a crosswalk by Opaeka‘a Falls. Another driver came roaring up and blasted their horn, apparently because they were sight-impaired and didn’t notice the people crossing the road. Yep, another driver furious they had just lost 20 seconds for their day.

Here’s the message for drivers around here. Relax. Take a deep breath. Calm down. (Nothing infuriates an angry person more than being told to calm down). If you’re in a big hurry because you’re running late, than plan better and leave earlier. Get over the inner demon that you must always be in a rush, even when you’re just going home to watch a rerun of “Seinfeld.”

Traffic on Kauai, as we all know, can be a bit congested, to put it mildly. When you start up your vehicle and prepare to head out, know that there will be thousands of cars on the road each day. Are there bad drivers behind the wheels? Sure. Some will forget to signal. Some will go too slow. Some will make sudden turns. You can’t scream and swear at them all (though some will try). We’re not going to suggest anything crazy, such as just giving someone a friendly wave instead of the finger. We will suggest, though, a little basic respect and common courtesy, often in short supply, could go a long way toward improving your driving experience.

And give people like Donna Carsten the courtesy they deserve.

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