Speeders common on the road to Mankato

Published 7:59 am Monday, September 2, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Labor Day was designated to honor the social and economic contributions of workers. Unfortunately, I doubt many people think of that anymore on this weekend. Most people think of this as a last hurrah before school starts, fall begins and we settle down to our normal schedules after a summer of frolicking in the heat.

As I was driving to Mankato one recent day, I was thinking about all the travel of Labor Day weekend. I happened to be following a car that was going the speed limit, horror of horrors that someone should be going the speed limit. At first I thought I might pass the car and then, since I wasn’t in a hurry, I decided to see what would happen if I followed the car at a far enough distance away so there was room in between us. If someone decided to pass they could fit in between our vehicles.

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That meant that I slowed for a little while and then drove the speed limit.

My conclusion at the end of the trip was that Minnesota state troopers should be monitoring that road heavily and sneakily because there are some dangerous practices happening on this two-lane road.

The first thing I noticed is that I was being passed regularly. My speed was at 56 miles per hour. Everyone passed. I should say some passed with good driving practices but others put all of our lives in danger.

An SUV shadowed my bumper. I thought he was going to run me off of the road. He couldn’t pass because this is a busy highway and there were too many people meeting us, so his solution was to make me think he was going to run me over. It reminded me of that truck movie where the semi ran everyone over and off the road. Yes, he was that close.

I debated pulling to the side of the road because he was scaring me. I was doing nothing wrong. Then the get-back-at-’em side of me started to come out, and I wanted to stomp on my brakes. Of course that probably would have gotten me killed or injured at the speed we were going, but it would have stopped him. I decided that wasn’t a good solution.

Pretty soon he was so anxious that he actually passed me on a hill, on a yellow line, and instead of pulling in front of me and in between me and the other car going the speed limit, he passed them, too.

I did a lot of praying that he wouldn’t meet someone and put us all in the hospital.

We all hear the advertisements telling us to watch out for motorcycles and, let me clarify, I do think we need to be attentive to those vehicles, but lately I have seen examples where I think the ad should read “Motorcycles, watch out for cars.”

Mr. Motorcycle Man started following me, but not for long. Mr. Motorcycle Man decided to pass, too, on a yellow line, on a hill. I must admit he did take precautions. He zipped back in, in front of me, between the two cars and then zipped out again, still on the yellow no-passing line and still on the hill. He didn’t have a helmet or any protective clothing. This is another encounter in as many weeks with a motorcycle that has zipped in and out of traffic, ridden in between traffic and went at speeds faster than many cars were going. Yes, motorcycles, we can look out for you but not if you choose to drive dangerously.

I was also reminded of an email I received about a column a few years ago. It was from a man out East, waiting for a heart transplant. He had just visited Minnesota and he told me that he knew he would get a heart from Minnesota because of all the motorcyclists he watched when he visited. He stated: “No helmets and driving dangerously.” I don’t know if he ever got his heart or if his conclusions were correct.

My conclusion: It doesn’t matter what the speed limit is, most vehicles drive at least 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit. Many vehicles drive 65 or 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. We have no patience anymore when it comes to driving, and Highway 22 between Wells and Mankato is no exception. Adding the distractions of cellphones makes it even more dangerous on any highway when speed and impatience is involved.

Communities are trying to advocate safe driving by issuing speeding tickets and reminding people to drive safely. Recently in Albert Lea I have known some people that have been stopped for speeding 40 in a 30 mph zone, the same in my community. We can be upset with the police or we can thank them for reminding us, no matter where we are that our speed can have consequences. In communities going even 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit might make a difference to how quickly we can stop for a child or a pedestrian.

Do I ever speed? Absolutely, but not intentionally. I have also adapted to the mindset of 5 mph over the limit. On my way home I did drive 60, and I still got passed.

It is Labor Day weekend. Watch out for yourselves when you drive. It could be your foot on the foot feed that is the danger. Be safe.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net.