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Impatient drivers are the problem

Published January 21, 2004

Re: Older drivers should avoid rush hour, letter, Jan. 14.

Some of the statements the letter writer made about elderly drivers are true, but those drivers are not the only problem.

What about all the aggressive drivers who constantly switch lanes, who don't obey speed limits or traffic signs? What about the drivers who are on their cell phones and are not concentrating on the road or their surroundings? The letter writer suggests that elderly drivers should stay off the roads during certain times of the day. Do you really think this will help cut down on accidents?

Accidents at certain times of day are probably caused by the impatient driver who is late for work or returning from lunch, or the driver who runs the yellow light so he is not inconvenienced by having to wait through a light change.

I am 50 and I observe the speed limits and traffic signs, have never received a traffic violation and have not been involved in an accident in more than 30 years. I usually stay in the right-hand lane and drive the speed limit and let all the hot rods pass me and then catch up to them at the next red light. That is, if they don't run it.

It sounds to me as though the letter writer is one of those impatient drivers who feel the road belongs to them. That's the type of driver I avoid.

-- -- John Yurkonis, St. Petersburg

Driving in the "Twilight Zone'

Having spent about two hours on the interstate Sunday afternoon driving from St. Petersburg to Sarasota and back, I experienced what I am sure could only be described as entering the "Twilight Zone" of legally posted speed limit phenomena.

Addicted to my cruise control and steadfastly sticking to the legal speed limit, I would have to estimate, since I didn't actually count, that 200 to 300 vehicles whizzed by me - some deftly avoiding collisions.

I wasn't able to see whether the recent letter writer (Older drivers should avoid rush hour) was one of the whiz-by drivers, but if not, surely his spirit attended those who did fly by - maybe with his and their own "Twilight Zone" of posted speed limits only visible to them. Certainly us not-quite-as-young mortals weren't seeing the same speed limit signs.

I never passed a vehicle that was doing the legal speed limit. But was I pushed? You bet.

By the way, I never saw a patrol car all through that drive. They must also have been somewhere in the young-and-faster-than-everyone-else "Twilight Zone."

-- -- Carla A. Kennedy, St. Petersburg

A driving lesson from Dad

Re: Several letters about senior drivers, Jan. 18.

My daddy taught me many years ago, the problem driver is usually the nut who is driving the car behind the car in front of him.

-- -- Donald F. Kelly, St. Petersburg

Older - and wiser - drivers

I moved here five years ago (retired) because of the fine bus service. Yes, it could use some schedule tweaking. The most important thing it needs is lots of public promotion. Get the people involved and riding the bus and it will become the service it needs to be.

The letter writer who decided he was the guru of the roads is a lost soul and I feel sorry for him.

If you are being held up on the road by good, safe drivers, leave a little earlier.

Florida's retired population is probably the safest group of drivers around. It is the younger ones who cause all the problems. The letter writer should slow down, take time to smell the roses and learn how to respect people older and wiser than he is.

-- -- Paul Langer, Largo

Taxes are a needed sacrifice

Re: Unserved areas balk at countywide transit tax, Jan. 11.

When my tax statement is delivered in November, I am assessed for public schools and the juvenile welfare board. The problem is, I don't have any children in Pinellas County. I thought PSTA stood for Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, not Partial Suncoast Transit Authority. My point is, as a taxpayer and citizen, I am doing my part for the betterment of our local society, whether I am a direct beneficiary or not. I should expect my fellow citizens to do their part in the same measure and purpose. If we each decided what we wanted to pay taxes for, we could never progress for the common good of society. Sacrifices, a.k.a. taxes, need to be made. All municipalities need to be involved in a better Pinellas.

-- -- John Kryszczyszyn, St. Petersburg

The smiling toll collector

Re: Working: Joe "Peppi" Gehrig, 53, toll collector, Pinellas Bayway, Jan. 11.

I see Mr. Gehrig almost daily. He always has a smile on his face as he stands in the middle section observing the operations and helping people. He always acknowledges you with a nod or a wave besides the smile.

I have the dubious distinction of having wiped out not one but two toll gates on two different occasions due to malfunctions. I only wish he had been on duty on those two days. And for those of you who are curious, the gates really don't damage your car, even when you manage to wrap one around your side mirror and then over the windshield. It just scares the h-- out of you. Thank you, Mr. Gehrig.

-- -- Kathleen Matecki, St. Pete Beach

Airboat was imported from Minnesota

Re: New Year's Day marks another pioneering aviation first, Jan. 1 guest column by Will Michaels on the launching of the Benoist airboat line from St. Petersburg to Tampa on Jan. 1, 1914.

An interesting but not widely known fact about the Benoist flying boat is that the machine came here from Minnesota. The book Minnesota Aviation History 1857-1945 (copyright 1993, Minnesota Department of Transportation) depicts the Benoist in flight over Duluth Harbor. I quote the cover description:

"The gold and green Benoist Number 43 hydroaeroplane of Julias H. Barnes is portrayed on an excursion flight around the Duluth, Minnesota, harbor. Pilot Tony Jannus is perhaps teaching William D. "Gasoline Bill' Jones how to fly. Note that the harbor's famous aerial bridge in the background features the original transfer coach instead of the present day lift span.

"The Benoist has special significance in aviation history, for it was this very airplane, shipped from Duluth to Tampa, Florida, in the fall of 1913, modified and refurbished, that was used to conduct the initial flight of the world's first airline, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line. On January 1, 1914, the first scheduled airline carried a single paying passenger on each trip between the two cities, and continued the service several times a day for three months, missing only four days due to weather or mechanical problems."

-- -- Adolph M. Hanson, Largo [Last modified January 21, 2004, 14:38:35]

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