No room for tourists on Nevada County roads |

No room for tourists on Nevada County roads

I am growing old and impatient. That has to be the answer. Otherwise, it must be the unfathomable antics of our county leaders. I have a serious question concerning their planning, or lack thereof.

For instance, why spend a ridiculous amount of money for the purpose of luring more tourists to Nevada County when our roads and streets are incapable of handling the traffic that is already here? Has anyone advised tourists that they will spend their entire visit stuck in traffic? I didn’t think so. That’s our secret.

In fairness, those engaged in promoting tourism aren’t entirely to blame. A large part of the problem lies with our traffic engineers, or what passes for engineers. I am convinced that some of them couldn’t engineer a straight path to the outhouse.

I have seen traffic backed up on Nevada City highway from the Brunswick corner to the top of the hill near House of Print and Copy. I have seen traffic backed up from the Maltman corner all the way around the corner of McDonald’s. I have seen the eastbound Gold Flat exit backed up clear to the freeway. I have seen the “improved” McKnight Way traffic backed up – but why go on? I haven’t seen these traffic jams just occasionally. I drive all day every day, all of Nevada County. I am thinking of asking for hazardous duty pay, or at least a gray hair allowance.

Motorists, don’t bother looking smug. You are as guilty as the engineers. I have driven in France, Italy, and a number of other countries where the chief qualification for a driver’s license is to be certifiably insane. And guess what, folks. Some of our Nevada County drivers could put those countries to shame. Some drivers aren’t just insane, they are madmen (and women).

Turn signals weren’t put on vehicles just as a nice accessory. They are legally required. Why don’t you use them? We don’t like to guess your intentions. After your turn, cancel them. When you are driving 45 miles an hour in the fast lane of the freeway, you are driving oh, so safely. Of course, you have caused six accidents behind you. Hooray, you’re driving safely.

When it’s rainy, foggy, snowy, or generally gloomy, you refuse to use your headlights. Saving your battery, I guess. Wouldn’t it be better to save some accidents? There should be a state law that one must use headlights in inclement weather, or whenever visibility is questionable. Of course, it’s all academic; in the headlight section of Highway 49, I have never seen anyone stopped for not using their headlights. CHP, are you listening?

When you snuggle up as closely as possible behind a truck, he cannot see you. Keep a safe distance so his mirrors can tell him you are there. Also, he must make a wide turn; give the guy a break. Lose 10 seconds or cause a wreck, which is better?

I am not presuming to be an expert on anything. Still, I have driven for some 58 years. Automobiles, big rigs, motorcycles – I have driven locally and cross-country, overseas, and – you name it, I have driven it. Through sheer good luck and a certain aversion to dying, I have a good driving record. No, I’m not an expert. I have made driving goofs, and felt pretty stupid as a result. I am only saying that Nevada County very desperately needs to improve both its traffic engineering and its driving habits. As for road rage, what’s the point? If a hot rodder doesn’t enrage you, somebody’s grandparent will. Let it slide; it’s a no-win situation.

Meanwhile, let’s encourage the entire country to move to beautiful Nevada County. What’s a few more thousand cars a day? In case you’re wondering, I do love Nevada County; there’s nowhere else I want to be. I have found, though, that the reason so many people retire here is that they are afraid to get in their cars and try to leave. Long live pedestrians, and I wouldn’t give them too much of a chance.

Walt Lawson lives in Grass Valley.

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