Writer’s Block: Bah, Humbug!

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

‘Tis the season for making merry and bright. The lights are all aglow, the halls have been decked with boughs of holly and all should be jolly, right?

Well, almost.

If you’ll allow me a little latitude to be a bit of a Grinch — only slightly a curmudgeon — I’d like to talk about something that’s been interrupting my holiday cheer. And perhaps, it’s been occasionally interrupting yours, as well.

I’m talking about poor road manners.

I get it. It’s a busy time of year. Between work and family, school and church, secret Santa and white elephant, Christmas concerts and Christmas potlucks, there’s a lot going on this month. So, now is perhaps the most important time of all to remind ourselves to be courteous and patient when we’re behind the wheel. And perhaps to brush up on some pointers we may have forgotten since our days in driver’s ed.

First and foremost, stay conscious of your speed.

Going too fast AND going too slow can both create hazardous driving conditions not just for you, but for motorists around you. Keeping up with the flow of the traffic around you will help mitigate those preventable hazards and goes a long way towards preventing road rage.

If you’re in the left lane on the Causeway and you see more than one car pass you by on the right, I’m sorry to break it to you, friend, but you’re going too slow. Studies have shown that left lane slowpokes increase the chance of an accident occurring. Additionally, not only is it an unfriendly thing to do, it’s also against the law.

However, there is at least one Texas highway where slowing your speed this time of year is very important — lifesaving important.

I’m talking about Highway 48 between Port Isabel and Brownsville. During the winter months, we’re often subject to powerful cold fronts with whipping north winds. Those winds, combined with the unique topography along Highway 48 and its concrete retaining walls spell aerobatic doom for our native brown pelicans.

As a result, you can sometimes see dozens of them plummeting out of the sky and onto the 75mph highway, especially around dusk. So, be mindful of that.

If the winds are strong and coming out of the north, keep an eye out for downed pelicans along 48. And heed the directions of any law enforcement or citizen volunteers who may be out on the highway trying to assist the birds.

Finally, don’t forget your lights. December is a great time of year for fog, rain, sleet, mist and drizzle. Sometimes all of those at once. Plus, fogged windshields from your car’s heater keeping you toasty warm while the weather outside is frightful.

Even if it’s daytime, you should keep your headlamps and taillights on. Especially during inclement weather. It’s not so much about the lights aiding your vision on the road, as much as it is about helping other drivers see you.

As a driver of a silver car, I know just how much I can become invisible on a grey and rainy day without my lights. But, the same can happen with brightly colored vehicles, too.

Be safe out there, my friends!

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