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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

When driving these days, be ready to drive defensively


Is it me or are people driving today without a care in the world? It feels like every time I get behind the wheel, I am forced to drive defensively.


Stop signs have become optional.


Turn signals are unnecessary.


Talking on your phone with the phone in your hand is way more common than I would like.


True story, I was at a stop sign waiting to turn. Traffic was flowing in both directions. I observed a local elected official talking animatedly on their phone with the phone in their hand. Then they gestured. Meaning there was no hands on the wheel for a longer time period than I felt was safe.


But heck, what do I know?


The other day I was driving across town on Route 54. I counted the number of cars without front license plates at least 14 in the 10 minutes it took me to arrive at my destination. There were a couple of stoplights so I could even turn my head and note that all but two of the cars were Jersey plates on the back.


I shook my head and just chalked up to being a weird day.


Then it happened again on a shorter trip. There was a disproportionate number of front tag- less cars then there should be in New Jersey.


So I asked a friend who would know if two plates were mandatory in New Jersey.


He said yes and mentioned that the second tag you are given is not a spare.


I was driving down Third Street and the car in front of me kept changing their speed. At one point we were doing 25 mph then 12 then back up to 29 then up to 38 then down to 19. It was so uncomfortable that I was worried that I actually contemplated trying to pass the other car.


We all make mistakes while driving. I get that. Heck, I sneezed three times while driving a few weeks ago. It is the worst feeling to sneeze while attempting to keep your eyes open. I was grateful I was on Orchard Street which is a low traffic road locally.


People often text me. That’s normal. I do not text and drive. My car lets me talk to text which works well except for spelling errors. Or I will ignore the phone until I can put the car in park.


I don’t think everyone does this based on what I see driving. More and more people drive with their heads down. Watch the road, people. Not your phone.


Please don’t get me started on crosswalks. I let someone cross at the Wawa on 12th Street at the intersection with Washington Street. But it took a while for the other side to allow the pedestrians to cross.


If you embark on a road trip this month, be ready to drive defensively the entire time. Other drivers may not be as focused as you are.


Gina Rullo is the editor-in-chief of The Hammonton Gazette. In 2022, she was named an “Editor Extraordinaire” by Editor & Publisher Magazine and in 2021 won two awards for investigative journalism.


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