Negotiating traffic lanes and intersections is an important task, so people give it their full attention, right?
Actually, we know this is wrong, since so many people today drive while using a cell phone or other electronic device, not to mention yielding to distractions as such eating, drinking, fixing their hair — or even shaving.
But those are fairly common strange things to do in traffic. We sometimes see extremely strange and bizarre things done by people in traffic — things which make little sense, if any, and which don’t make the tough task of driving any easier for anyone.
For instance, a recent video posted on social media showed two Houston men near Broadway and I-45, the Gulf Freeway, playing basketball in traffic just ahead of a stop light, while using a child’s short basket. (That’s supposed to impress us?) Drivers were forced to stop and wait for them to move, or try to drive around them.
Similarly, in December of 2015 a man proposed to a woman on I-45 near downtown Houston. That’s right: He got on bended knee on the roadway itself.
Vidal Valladares Navas had his friends stand in lanes of traffic in order to stop vehicles while he proposed marriage to Michelle Wycoff — in the middle of the freeway. Video was made of the freeway proposal and placed on social media. How romantic.
Well, at least those two groups of Houston traffic-stoppers were clothed. In March of this year, after a collision on State Highway 290 at Huffmeister Road, a woman who’d crashed in front of a truck took off her clothes and ascended to the top of an 18-wheeler, which was stuck in traffic.
It took two hours for police and firefighters to get the naked woman on top of the big rig to step into a ladder truck’s basket so they could bring her down.
People also are known to end it all in traffic by jumping from overpasses or bridges or by deliberately driving into walls or other vehicles. Crazed persons also have dropped heavy items such as bricks or bowling balls from bridges or overpasses.
Then there’s the trash. For some people, to “take out the garbage” means to leave it on roadways or on the sides of roads. Mattresses, beds, chairs, couches, refrigerators and other bulky items have wound up competing with drivers for space along roads and highways.
Motorists also can be subjected to advertising, publicity and promotional stunts in traffic.
In China, an ad company tried to recreate a “floating man stunt” earlier performed in Great Britain. In this case, a man appeared to float while standing alongside a moving bus, with one arm against a bus window.
Chinese officials were not amused. They fined the ad company for conducting a stunt which was deemed dangerous after it disrupted traffic flow during rush hour in Yangzhou, and they suspended the bus driver’s license. (Is Yangzhou any relation to Texas’ “Hou”? Makes you wonder.)
Then we have people who are simply bad drivers — or show-off drivers, which is actually another way of saying bad drivers, when you think about it.
In 2014, a driver performed a dangerous stunt on the Golden Gate Bridge heading into Marin County, north of San Francisco, as part of what’s called a “sideshow.” That’s when motorists gather to stop traffic and perform illegal stunts, then bravely run away before police can get there, then post video or photos of the event so that easily impressed people can be impressed.
For the Golden Gate Bridge stunt, a sports car did whirling, circular turns in the middle of traffic lanes. This succeeded in stopping traffic and helping no one but the stunt driver, whose insecurity complex compelled him to do any obnoxious thing for attention.
Also common are recreational motorcyclists performing stunts on roads to impress someone. We’re not sure whom.
YouTube has a lengthy array of such stunts, including this crazy motorcycle stunt in traffic.
At Jim Adler & Associates, we urge drivers to choose safety first, and not silly, self-aggrandizing stunts made for posting online via social media. What happened to the good old days of wearing a lampshade on your head at parties?
Given the many thousands of motorists injured and killed each year, driving is serious business. And it’s hard enough without motorists being distracted or impeded by strange things people do in traffic.
Let’s leave stunts for non-driving activities, and let’s all get home safely.