If you drive on the highways in Florida, you know what it is like to be stopped on said highway nowhere near an exit. It stinks. You are never sure how long you will be stopped, so you don’t know if it is appropriate to just change the radio station or to get out of the car and get your book out of the suitcase. This past weekend, I had one of those stops on Interstate 10 where you had time to basically do whatever you wanted to do. Luckily, I had just purchased a new marine radio, and the box was in the front seat. I had time to open the box, put the radio together, and almost finish reading the manual before traffic started moving again.
I thought about picking up my phone to pass the time, but then I remembered about Florida’s new driving and texting law. In case you have not heard, starting Jan. 1, 2020, you can now be pulled over and given a citation for texting while driving. Technically, you can text while your vehicle is not in motion, but it is up to the discretion of the nearest law enforcement officer if you took too long to put your phone down and were impeding the flow of traffic. I am glad Florida finally joined the vast majority of states that enforce some type of texting while driving law. I think it is ridiculous that you can still drive and read a book, or put on your makeup, but they better not outlaw driving and eating because that is my favorite behind the wheel distraction.
This past Sunday, while hundreds of cars were stopped on I-10, one of the drivers ahead of me decided to give us all a show to help pass the time. This guy in a white pickup truck got stuck trying to cross the grass median. I can understand not wanting to sit in the traffic, and moving, even in the wrong direction, is better than just sitting there. I cannot understand why he thought the best way to cross the deep portion of the grassy median was at a 90-degree angle to the roadway. He got stuck when both his front and back bumpers were touching the grass. Lucky for him, a guy in a bigger white truck, who happened to have a tow strap, pulled him out. He decided to travel in our slow direction after his off-roading adventure. I did enjoy watching what not to do in case I ever decide I will cross the median because I can’t stand…sitting in traffic…for one more minute.
Once we finally started moving again, about two miles or so from where I was stopped, we got to see what the hold up was. There was just one highway patrol car with its lights on behind one very obviously burned SUV that left quite a black mark on the road around it. The next time you are stuck in traffic, remember: it is way better to be stuck in traffic than for your vehicle to be on fire.
Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.