Roadscapes Wednesday: The Dangers Of Eating While Driving


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

Last week, this made the news across Alabama.  A man from Alabama named Madison Turner was pulled over and given a ticket for eating while driving.  The ticket came from the Cobb County police, and the ticket was a violation of the Cobb County distracted driving law.  Madison ordered a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese from a McDonald’s in Marietta.  And a police officer followed the driver while eating the burger for two miles!  Let’s get this off my chest, eating a big burger like that while driving down the road is probably not a good idea to begin with.

The police officer finally pulled over Madison Turner and said “You can’t just go down the road eating a hamburger.”  So the police officer wrote a citation under Georgia’s distracted driving law, and in the remarks section of the ticket, he wrote eating while driving.  Before you say this is government going to far.  Here is what the distracted driving law in Georgia states.

A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.

Yes, we don’t know thew entire story here.  Did the police officer notice driving errors like swerving and bad driving?  Or did the police officer just wrote up a ticket because eating is evil while driving?  I mean, most of us including me does eat something while driving.  It could be a bag of chips, or a candy bar, or beef jerky, or something else.  Eating small food items does not mean you are taking your eyes off the road.  Because your hand is reaching down to grab a handful of chips.  But trying to eat a big cheeseburger while driving down the road.  Chances are you might be using both hands, and might not be looking down the road like you are supposed too!

So, chances are this ticket will probably be thrown out in court.  And other attorneys have never seen anything like this, and the only time eating while driving becomes a factor is when an accident occurs.  So, I have to believe the judge will throw out this ticket, and this will be a lesson to anyone driving down the road.  People, including myself, are getting tired of other drivers doing stupid things behind the wheel.  It’s not just eating, it’s using their cell phone, texting, reading, drinking, being in an argument, and other stupid things.  My favorite is when someone is using their cell phone at a red light, and sits there when the light is green, and the light turns back to red, and it causes other drivers to wait through another light cycle.  Yep, distracted driving is bad!

And here is something else to think about, did you know that eating and/or drinking while driving is more distracting than people using cell phones?  Studies show that using a cell phone while you’re driving makes you 20-times more likely to crash, and that’s scary enough. But when researchers examined 34-million risky driving incidents, they found that distractions from eating and drinking are much more common than distractions from cell phones. The biggest problems: oopsies like spilled drinks, and dropped burgers — where drivers try to grab napkins and clean up the mess — all while hurdling down the highway at high speeds.  At least, that is what John Tesh says!

I know some of you are going to say things like “the police have gone too far” or “this is big government for you.”  But let me say this for the many car drivers out there.  You should not be doing anything that is distracted while driving!  From using a cell phone to eating a large cheeseburger, other drivers don’t like it, I don’t like it, and the police don’t like it either!  This is not big government or the police going to far, it’s stopping stupid drivers from harming themselves or others on the road.  Let’s sum up this post with a simple public service message.  If you need to do anything while driving, just find a spot and pull off the road, us drivers thank you for it!

Roadscapes Wednesday: When Will Snow Street In Oxford Get Repaved


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

So, I am noticing something while walking alongside the side of the road in Oxford.  Snow Street between AL-21 and US 78 is a 5-lane road.  But, the road’s condition is in very bad shape.  When I did my Roadscapes video profiling Quintard Ave., I also got footage of Snow St.  And you can see the camera shaking like crazy while on Snow Street.

So, City of Oxford.  When is Snow Street going to be repaved?  Sure, you did some patch work on the worst trouble spots, but that is not going to save this road from needing to be repaved!

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For starters, the road has sunk so much that you have a big bump while going over the ditch at Snow Creek.

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Parts of the road have major cracks running down the middle or across the road.

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Parts of the road has no paint lines left, because traffic and weather has worn the paint away.

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The ditches on the side of the road are filled with dirt and grass, and this causes major water overflows onto the road when it rains.

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And the overall road quality is very poor!

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This road is troublesome for a couple of reasons.  One, with the lack of paint and reflectors, some people have a hard time driving on this road.  I have seen people mistake the center lane as a regular driving lane.  Two, when it rains, massive amounts of water floods the right lane, making the lane useless.  And three, the road is giving out, and it’s very bumpy!

So, when will Oxford repave this road, or does it have the funds to repave this road?  That is the question!

Roadscapes Wednesday: Why The Anniston Trolley System Could Be Better


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

There has been plenty of discussions about the mass transit system here in Anniston/Oxford.  The Anniston Trolley system is run by the East Alabama Regional Planning Commission.  The ACTS trolley system consists of four small buses that runs on fixed routes on Monday – Saturday.  In the Anniston Star article last week, the commission said they are going to add bus stop signage, and extend hours by starting at 6 am, instead of 7 am.  Alabama Limousine, who runs the trolley system, said that even though gas prices have come down, the reason why ridership is still high is because people find the trolley system convenient.  That’s not the real reason, and it’s because I ride the trolley system, and have talked to the bus drivers and passengers.

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The real reason bus ridership is sill high is because of the local economy here in Anniston/Oxford.  This metro has one of the worst economies in the United States, the entire country!  Many people ride the trolley system because they are out of work, they have a job but it pays so little, or because they are on disability, which a lot people are on here.  The bus system even gives a .50 cent discount to people who are elders, children, on disability or Medicaid/Medicare.  And let me tell you, most of the bus drivers don’t even look for proof of being on disability or being on Medicaid/Medicare.  The passengers just tell them they pay .50 cents, and that is it!

The one bus driver who actually wanted to see proof of a young person who was on Medicaid got into an ugly shouting and cuss word match.  And I have been on the bus where people were fighting, and other passengers had to break up the fight.  Oh, and one bus driver actually shown me someone who paid the $1 fare using fake money.  I could go on and on about the problems I have seen on the Anniston trolley system.  But, I wanted to talk about four major problems the trolley system has here in this town, and ways to make them better.

1.  The buses are too small!

The buses only have around 30 seats per bus!  And most of the time, that is not enough seats, and it forces people to stand, which is unsafe and illegal I think.  Just this past month, I was on the trolley system when I had to stand up, because every seat was taken.  And a handicap person was on the bus as well.  It was overcramped and unsafe.

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So trolley system, you need to upgrade your buses to bigger ones!  Those small buses are not big enough!  Over 120,000 people uses the trolley system, and those small buses can not handle the crowds.  You need to upgrade to the buses the Jacksonville Gamecock Express uses, it would help here!

2.  The bus drivers don’t follow their routes

Yep, I have been on several buses that has the drivers not following their routes, to save time.  Some drivers don’t follow the exact routes, especially on the last 5 pm run, one driver actually told me it’s a race for the drivers to get back to the bus parking lot so they would not be the last one there.  And I have been stranded quite a few times because the bus drivers do not turn to go to the Oxford Public Library(part of the route), and it’s a long three mile walk back home!

So, I have a good idea!  Why not install GPS trackers on the trolleys.  The Gamecock Express already does this, and you can actually go to a website and track to see where the buses are at in real time.  This would let passengers know where they buses are at, and it would hold the bus drivers accountable!

3.  The buses take too long

The bus routes are taking longer and longer to complete.  Especially the north and south routes.  During the last part of the day, it is not surprising to see the buses 10-20 minutes late.  I have already said to the drivers that the buses needs to have their routes examined.  And maybe it’s time to add a fifth bus route, one that can go to the Oxford Exchange, and other areas like the college.  It would trim the routes off the other four buses, and make sure the buses are never late, unless an emergency happens, like a bus breaking down.

4.  Better buses and tracking

The trolley system did get a few new buses, which are nice.  But you still see the older buses, with seats that are broken, holes in the seats and handles, and sometimes even having the wheelchair ramp not working.  The bus drivers do the best job they can with the sometimes bad equipment.  It should be better, especially with over 120,000 people riding at some point.  The trolley system could also use a better website.

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In the screenshot above, you see the Gamecock Express system map, with icons telling you where the buses are at.  Not only you could pull this up on a smartphone, it would prevent people from standing in the weather, just to wait for the bus.  They could pull up the GPS map and know when the bus is coming.  It would make things much easier!

There, I hope the East Alabama Regional Planning Commission will read this post, and think of some new ways to make the trolley system better here in Anniston.  No doubt about it, the reason why most people are riding the trolley system, is mostly because the economy is in the toilet here!

Roadscapes Wednesday: Five Road Drawings To Solve The Leon Smith Parkway Problems


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

I have been profiling the major traffic problems on Leon Smith Parkway in Oxford around the Interstate 20 interchange and the Oxford Exchange area.  I mean, seeing pictures of traffic like this should make anyone shake their head and cringe.

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And yes, I even made a video showing you video footage of this as well!

So, as you can see there are some major problems with this area in Oxford Alabama.  This is what happens when you place everything in one small area!  So, on this Roadscapes post, I am going to feature five road drawings on what I want to see this area become.  I want to see more travel lanes, two right turn lanes turning onto Leon Smith Parkway from the Oxford Exchange, no more right turn yields coming off of I-20, and better traffic lights and signage!

Listen up ALDOT and the city of Oxford!  This is one of the worst traffic choke points in Alabama and the southeast.  And once the eastern bypass opens up later this year, the traffic will get a whole lot worse!  The road drawing sequence starts at the Leon Smith Parkway / Jimmy Hinton Drive intersection, and goes south towards the Oxford Exchange.

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Roadscapes Wednesday: Two Great Time Lapse Christmas Light Road Videos


Roadscapes Geek Alabama Christmas 2014

On this Roadscapes Wednesday post, I am going to feature one more Christmas themed post, this post will be about two Christmas light videos, from YouTube channels that focus on time-lapse road videos!  The first video from the YouTube channel socarboy features the Festival of Lights at the James Island County Park in Charleston, South Carolina.  The annual holiday display is in its 25th year and is one of the largest Christmas light displays in the eastern United States.  The second video from the YouTube channel American Roads features Christmas lights in and around Southern California in the Eagle Hills area.  Both videos feature beautiful Christmas lights, enjoy!