This morning, I was just thinking about how many bad drivers are on the road, when a collision happened right before my eyes. I was in a left turn lane. The light was green, but the green arrow wasn't lit up, so our lane had to yield right of way. The car in front of me completely failed to do so. He just swung out in front of a pick-up truck. The truck tried to swerve at the last minute, but it was quite a crash. Car parts few everywhere.
Fortunately, it looked like no one was hurt. The car driver jumped out and ran to the truck to make sure the driver was all right. The truck looked more or less undamaged, and its driver just looked shaken.
Everyone thinks their own city has the worst drivers, but I've lived on both coasts ... I've spent time in several U.S. cities ... and I think Austin is right up there with Boston. It's like the worst drivers from both coasts decided to move here and get drunk, get high, or otherwise mentally check out. The poorly marked, narrow roads for high volume traffic don't help (although Boston is worse on that factor). I like Austin, but maybe they need huge blinking traffic signs everywhere that say STAY ALERT! Maybe the Austin Chronicle should publish a memo that says "pay attention."
It seems that witnessing traffic accidents here is pretty routine. A few months ago, I almost got rear-ended by a speeding pick-up truck. There was nowhere for anyone to swerve; it was a two-way backroad in a forested area. I was waiting to make a left turn. The truck coming up behind me swerved at the last minute, but it had to drive on the grassy shoulder to avoid hitting me, and could easily have hit a boulder or tree. This was in daylight; the truck should have seen me and slowed down. I can't imagine what delayed mental processes led the driver to ignore the fact that my car wasn't moving and had a turn signal on.
A few weeks ago, I got stuck behind a car driving at maybe 2 to 5 mph in heavy traffic. I was stuck behind this car long enough to determine that they were not stalled; the driver was arguing with his passenger. It looked like a greasy older man and either a tiny old lady or a little girl. As we went through a heavy traffic intersection, I honked. The car slowed down even more, causing a huge traffic pile-up. I was able to swerve around him, and everyone behind me was forced to swerve, as well.
I could go on and on. Bicyclists pedal across busy intersections without looking. People cross roads without looking to see if traffic is coming. Cars change lanes or pull into busy roads without checking to see if anyone is coming. This is normal, daily driving in Austin.