Too many Truckers don’t Follow Rules of the Road (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Semi-Truck in Passing Lane on 985 in Suwanee, Georgia, June 25, 2015

Semi-Truck in Passing Lane on 985 in Suwanee, Georgia, June 25, 2015

When I was growing up and all throughout the nearly 30 years that I lived in New York State, I never recall observing any truckers driving in the passing lane – particularly on highways and thruways – at least for any longer than it took to pass slower vehicles and return to the “slow” or “truck” lane.  Ever since I began living in the Southern United States 15 years ago, I keep seeing more and more truckers (especially semi-truck and big-rig truck drivers) actually driving in the passing lane.  And, those whom I see are typically driving very fast and are not just passing to pass – they are trucking along in the passing lane.

On the highways around Atlanta, Georgia, the typical speed limit is between 65-70 miles per hour, which is really already more than fast enough. Driving at high rates of speed creates less control of a vehicle, but when truckers are driving even faster than the speed limit – and in the passing lane – it’s a recipe for disaster.  There are too many truckers taking too many risks on the road, with driving too fast, driving in the passing lane, and thinking they are able to control their rigs (when they can’t) at those rates of speed.

For these reasons, and because there is so, so much truck traffic on the highways all throughout the South, I am very hesitant to drive on them, particularly with any family members riding with me.  I do my best to be a defensive driver.  If I see someone being reckless, I hang back.  Those who are driving fast, I just let them go right on by.

Last summer, I was driving north on 85 out of Atlanta, and a driver in a car passed me at – I would estimate – 100 miles per hour or faster.  I prayed that the driver would not kill themselves or others as I expected for an accident to occur.  Surely enough, I eventually got up the road a bit further on 985 about 10 minutes after the driver passed me, and found that he/she had crossed the grass median, crossed the double-lane highway on the other side, and was in the woods.

This driver has nothing to do with truckers, however the example is one that reflects the high rates of speed at which most people drive in the South.  I am proud that nearly all drivers pass me on the highway.  I am content to travel at the speed limit, and will happily move over and give much room to those who fly by so fast that I can’t even read their license plate number.

Coca Cola Semi-Truck in Passing Lane on Buford Drive near Mall of Georgia, June 25, 2015

Coca Cola Semi-Truck in Passing Lane on Buford Drive near Mall of Georgia, June 25, 2015

Back to the truckers, however, it really got to me today when I was doing business in and near Buford, Georgia that I photographed two semi-trucks in the passing lanes of the highways.  Now, certainly, it is not illegal for truckers to drive in the passing lane, however it makes the roads less safe for everyone traveling on them.  One trucker was driving in the passing lane for at least two miles on 985 near Suwanee, and a driver of a Coca-Cola semi-truck was driving in the passing lane on Buford Drive just south of the Mall of Georgia for five or more miles.

It is tiresome to regularly observe truckers driving in the passing lane, creating potentially unsafe situations for other drivers, and just plain not following the rules of the road.  Too many truckers have no regard for drivers in vehicles with babies, young children, or the elderly.  And, typically, I observe young male drivers take too many risks in their vehicles by cutting off and swerving in and out of lanes to get around truckers.  This just puts everyone on the road at risk of injury or death.

The need for speed in the South is obviously much greater than a respect and appreciation for life and safety.  Every time people drive on the road, they are at risk, but the risks can be reduced if everyone drives more slowly and safely.  But, unfortunately, I know that’s not going to happen.

“Having a Love for Horses: Remembering Sir Taurus and Elitist” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Sir Taurus, 1989

Sir Taurus, 1989 (from “Standing his Second Season at Dan Gernatt Farms: Sir Taurus,” Dan Gernatt Farms (1989)

As a youth, I acquired my love for horses.  Two of my all-time favorite horses are Sir Taurus and Elitist.  In 1988 and 1989, and possibly other years as well, these horses were owned by Dan Gernatt Farms in Collins, New York.  Since I grew up living close by where the horses were staged, I had opportunities on my walking, running, and biking outings in my neighborhood to see, interact with, and enjoy both horses.  Sir Taurus and Elitist were unique and special, and hold a warm place in my heart.

Horses are such intelligent and sensitive animals.  I believe that they definitely have a sixth sense and are very emotional creatures.  In visiting the horses in my youth, I found that interacting with them was very calming.  If one approached them in a calm, relaxed, and trusting manner, they were also trusting and at ease.  Getting in close proximity to the horses, I spoke softly and warmly to them – particularly Sir Taurus – and they were always calm, easy, and even protective of me.

Elitist typically had more energy and spunk than Sir Taurus, so I was always more cautious around him.  While giving him carrots, I was always careful to watch out for my fingers, lest he mistake them for carrots and chomp away.  Sir Taurus was much more careful than Elitist in eating his carrots, using his intelligence and sensitivity to bite only the carrots and never get near any fingers.

At first when I stopped to visit the horses on my exercising jaunts, I brought them sugar cubes.  Interestingly, neither horse had any interest in them.  That was when I changed to giving them carrots, which they always devoured in a matter of seconds.  They absolutely loved carrots, and giving them carrots was a great way of having them approach me while they were in the outdoor, fenced fields.

About Elitist, I recall that he loved attention.  He was an extremely energetic horse, and almost seemed somewhat hyper.  He always behaved in a manner in which he believed that he was superior to other horses, including Sir Taurus.  When I stopped to visit them, I had to be sure to split my time equally between them, or Elitist would get antsy and upset, snickering his displeasure if Sir Taurus received more of my time than he did.  Sir Taurus was much more patient, gentle, relaxed, and secure in himself than Elitist.

There were times when I brought a heavy-bristled brush with which to brush them.  And, while Elitist was not very interested in being brushed, Sir Taurus could literally stand there all day and allow me to brush his neck.  He absolutely loved his neck being brushed.  I enjoyed that he enjoyed it.  He was a horse with which I connected.  He and I seemed to have an understanding which, on his part, was almost human.  Elitist enjoyed having his ears rubbed and scratched.  Both horses were amazing.

In 1989, I am aware that Sir Taurus held several world records in harness racing in New York State.  Particularly as a two- and three-year-old, he held many world records.  He was the co-holder of the world record with Mack Lobell on a 1/2 mile track with a time of 1:57.2h.  He was the only world record-holding son of Speedy Crown to stand in New York State at that time.  His breeding also included that through Vanessa Hill and Hickory Pride.  His career earnings as of 1989 were nearly $485,000.

That same year, it was announced that the $100,000 Elitist Cup would continue through 1992 to benefit those of his two-year-old offspring would be racing at that time.  He was purchased by Dan Gernatt, Sr. in 1983 due to his excellent race times of under and/or at 1:55, trotting or pacing (Abbey, 1984).  For two years, Elitist ran against the best horses in the field and earned $250,000.  His stud fee in 1989 was $3,000.  His breeding was by Bret Hanover-Melody Almahurst through a Meadow Skipper mare.

In the photo included in this post, Sir Taurus is possibly driven by Dave Vance, though I am unsure about that.  Vance was Sir Taurus’ driver for some time.  Most of the information that I have included herein is from uncopyrighted flyers that were issued by Dan Gernatt Farms regarding the horses in 1989, and which I have referenced below.

To this day, I enjoy being around and interacting with horses.  Sir Taurus and Elitist were two horses that I really loved.  On many occasions throughout my life, I have taken opportunities to go horseback riding, and to see that my son has experienced pony and horseback riding, as well.  While I have never been able to afford owning or maintaining horses, the opportunities that I have had to interact with them and acquire a love for them are those that I cherish.  Horses are truly gifted animals, and should never be underestimated in their sensitivity or intelligence.

References:

Abbey, H.C. (1984).  “Gernatt’s Horses Plug Collins.”  The Buffalo News.  Buffalo, New York: Berkshire Hathaway.

Dan Gernatt Farms (1989).  “Standing his Second Season at Dan Gernatt Farms: Sir Taurus.”  Dan Gernatt Farms.  Collins, New York: Dan Gernatt Farms.

Dan Gernatt Farms (1989).  “The $100,000 Elitist Cup Continues: Elitist.”  Dan Gernatt Farms.  Collins, New York: Dan Gernatt Farms.