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Editorial: Out-of-Town Drivers Less Than Courteous

Have you encountered bad behavior by out-of-state motorists on Route 412 in Hellertown or Bethlehem? Tell us about your observations in the comments section.

If you live and work in Hellertown, you're among the fortunate ones. Your lifestyle means you probably don't have to fight the Route 412 traffic in and out of the borough all too often.

For those of us who do regularly sit in traffic along this overcrowded corridor, however, it would seem the patience of saints is required--especially now that schools are open again and there's even more "hustle and bustle."

One recent afternoon as I headed north out of Hellertown, my patience was tested by a motorist whose behavior seems all too common based on my (unscientific) observations as a motorist who can hardly avoid the road (much as I try).

As I headed north into Bethlehem--beyond the point where Shimersville Road splits off--I was in the left lane approaching Lynn Avenue.

I was tired after a long day, and the pre-Labor Day weekend traffic was heavy.

As I approached the turn-off to the casino, at a point where the road narrows from two lanes to one, traffic slowed and I turned on my signal in order to move into the right lane.

The woman in the car behind me, however, didn't want to let me over, although there was plenty of space in front of her vehicle and behind mine.

As I moved into the right lane I saw her agitatedly gesticulate in my rearview mirror. She may have actually "gestured" in a not-so-nice way, but because of the heavy tint on her New Jersey-plated vehicle's windows, I couldn't say for sure.

When I saw that, I felt the blood rush to my face. "This person is headed to the casino," I thought to myself. "The slots are still going to be there, so what's her rush?"

I stared at her in the rearview mirror and sure enough, as we drove past the casino entrance, she and the elderly passenger in her vehicle pulled into the Sands.

Part of me wanted to follow her and say, "Why not be a little more courteous? After all, you are a guest in our area."

I think my words would have fallen on deaf ears. But maybe I would have felt a little better.

Was I guilty of road rage for thinking such a thought? No, I really don't think so. I would simply say that I am a human, and frustrated by the cumulative effects of encountering too many motorists who drive like they "own the roads" in this neck of the woods. 

Ever since the Sands opened, I have observed more obnoxious behavior by motorists in cars with out-of-state plates than ever before. And yes, New Jersey and New York seem to be the biggest offenders.

Are all Pennsylvanians saints behind the wheel? No, of course not. We have our share of ding-a-lings. But most of us are not exactly using the roads by choice, either. We're using them because we live here; because we have to get to work, to school, or to a doctor's appointment.

I'm not saying we should have priority over out-of-towners, but we should at least be treated with the courtesy that every motorist deserves.

Perhaps as PennDOT continues , they will consider installing signage that reminds all motorists to "share the road" and drive considerately. Stepped up enforcement by local police along the length of the corridor couldn't hurt either.

It's going to be a long three years, though.

Rose Linden Dierolf September 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I do my very best to avoid that corridor whenever possible unless I an getting on 78 or going to the Sands. I will take Lynn Ave or back roads from Easton Rd to get to Bethlehem or Easton. My husband just told me about "parking lot stalkers" when he is at the Sands. They will follow him to his parking spot when he leaves and wait for him to get in his car and go. Probably the same people who drive so inconsiderately to get there waste all the time they supposedly gained finding a parking spot.
Josh Popichak (Editor) September 06, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Parking lot stalkers? Wow, I hadn't heard about them yet. Thanks for the heads up, Rose.
Mary Anne Looby September 06, 2012 at 05:45 PM
First of all, you have to consider the source, "Jersey"! They are the worst drivers in the USA. I did start driving until I was married. Granted I was only 23, but learning to drive at 16 scared me to death! I pretty much knew how to drive by the time I did get my license but my husband insisted on making me practice in "Jersey". He said if I could hold my own against the crazies, I would be ok. I think the bus drivers to and from the casino are the worst, they speed and weave in and out of trafic. As far as parking lot stalkers go, they are everywhere at the malls, the shopping centers, the grocery stores, not just at the Sands.
Andrew Wilt September 06, 2012 at 07:03 PM
What about other behaviors that happen almost every day in or near Hellertown? 1 - In ideal driving conditions, going 30mph on 40mph roads and braking down to 20mph around turns 2 - Stopping at intersections to look both ways when there is no stop sign but there is one for the cross street 3 - Turning left from the right side of the lane so as to make it impossible to pass on the right, thereby forcing everyone behind you to wait until you finally decide to go - I know passing on the right is illegal but clearly it shouldn't be because nearly every driver does it and if were ever put on a referendum (Ha!) it would easily pass. 4 - Not pulling ahead of the stop line while waiting to turn left at an intersection and then waiting through another light (or two) before turning left - If the light is green, you are allowed to pull all the way into the intersection to turn left, you are not required to stay behind the line while you wait. This is an utterly ridiculous and foolish waste of time.
Walter September 06, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Witness the profile of an aggressive driver.
Walter September 06, 2012 at 08:39 PM
It’s not just the Out-Of-Town drivers, Josh. It is society in general anymore. The attitude on the roads anymore is – One Car Ahead. People will do anything to be just one more car ahead. They will risk injury and or death, just to be one car ahead. Scary.
Andrew Wilt September 06, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Walter (no last name?) - Witness the profile of a driver who hasn't had an accident with another vehicle ever, and who, except for a ticket which the officer himself said he wouldn't have issued had it not been for a technicality, hasn't had a ticket in over 20 years. I take it that you fit into categories 1, 2, 3, and 4 as above?
Bob Linney September 06, 2012 at 09:33 PM
N.B. - Passing on the right when a car is making a left is NOT illegal in PA. Be aware that a car stopped as though making a left turn may be stopping for people using the crosswalk! If you pass on the right and hit the pedestrian, you're in BIG trouble.
Josh Popichak (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I just thought of another pet peeve (as I was driving tonight). People who don't wait their turn at four way stops! I'm sorry but "butting" ahead of another person that you know darn well pulled up to their stop sign before you made it to yours has to be one of the rudest behaviors I encounter on the road. Unfortunately it seems to be much more common now than when I learned to drive. One of the worst intersections for this is actually in Bethlehem Township--Oakland Road and Hecktown Road, near NCC. But it happens everywhere, including Saucon Valley.
Donna Voag September 07, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Do not blame Jersey drivers.... Maybe PA drivers should learn to drive in traffic,
Josh Popichak (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 03:31 AM
@Donna--I think you just proved the point I was trying to make. Thanks.
Walter September 07, 2012 at 10:38 AM
Andrew (last name Wilt?) – No, I don’t fit into any of your listed behavioral categories. Try switching to decaf. Leave earlier, enjoy your commute.
Hellertown Mom September 07, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Andrew, I experience #4 on a daily basis at the intersection of Hickory Hill Rd/Seidersville Rd/Mountain Drive. If you don't pull into the intersection while waiting to turn left, you will never get out during the 5:00 - 6:00PM commute. If you're behind a driver who refuses to pull forward, you're really stuck.
Hellertown Mom September 07, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I've noticed many people running red lights recently. Not yellow-turning-red, RED! This happens especially at the I-78 interchanges, but I've witnessed it at Water and Main Streets twice this week.
Andrew Wilt September 07, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Walter - I do drink decaf and my commute is short, but thanks for the good tidings. It's not the driving behaviors that really bother me, if you're willing to continue the discussion. It's what I perceive as the general mental state of the drivers, and how we as citizens are more and more being molded into slaves by a government that's becoming a police state. Are sheep like drivers who slow down when they see a green light, because they're afraid it will turn yellow soon, the kind of citizens who will engage in peaceful protest or civil disobedience when the time comes to do something about our out of control federal government?
Lower Saucon Guy September 07, 2012 at 02:17 PM
@ Andrew, chill out. There is no police state and never will be. The government is not out of control. People drive like they do for many different reasons. You can't generalize. I worked in the heart of NJ for two years and commuted from the Poconos every day. Not all Jersey drivers were bad. People are people no matter where they live. You certainly don't give people the credit they deserve when you talk about being overtaken by the government. I don't believe that people would sit by and let that happen. Yes, there are a lot of morons running around, but in general, I think people still have good hearts. And a lot of guns id it came down to that, which it never will.
Lani September 07, 2012 at 03:01 PM
The other week I came to a yellow light on Main at Water, so I stopped. By the time I stopped the light was already red. The car behind me, when I began to slow down, sped into the left hand turning lane, and sped around me and went straight through the intersection. At this time our light was red, and Water St. traffic had a green light! Talk about not only inconsiderate, but incredibly dangerous!!!
Andrew Wilt September 07, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Lower Saucon Guy - I think you're kind of optimistic. But to pick just one of your comments - "The government is not out of control." - you must be kidding. The government is quite obviously "out of control" of what government is supposed to control. Nothing was done to prevent the sub-prime mortgage crisis even though the FBI warned Congress about it and there has not been even a single indictment for the pervasive fraud that caused it. The FBI also warned of the 9/11 attacks and nothing was done, illegal electronic monitoring in the interest of “national security” is widespread as a result. The national debt is skyrocketing beyond all legislatively established ceilings, for what they’re worth, money is printed ad infinitum adding to inflation. America is failing in health care, education, and standard of living. Our infrastructure is crumbling and I could go on and on. Yet we are spending trillions on needless wars in which are finest are being killed or maimed for no reason except the profits for the bankers and the military industrial complex. The government is clearly quite out of control. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government....”

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