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Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016

From the Midway: Have a safe trip - and watch out for deer!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

(Photo)
Like many who work in Cherokee, I have a daily commute. It's about thirteen miles, not too bad. I can make it into town in about 20 minutes. I live north of Cherokee and I travel on Hwy. 59. Most days my drive is pleasant - birds chirping, horses galloping, cows grazing and the morning dew glinting along the way. Yes the trip can be the picture of Americana, most days.

Sure, in the winter time the trip becomes a little more stressful. Icy roads and steep hills are not always a good combination unless you're riding on a big inner tube. People don't have patience for snowplows. They would rather pass a plow rather than wait for the plow driver to do his job.

Hwy. 59 is a well-traveled highway. In 2004, the Iowa Department of Transportation counted the number of cars that traveled on the highway at an average of 4,000 cars a day. So most mornings, I like to leave my home a little early. You never know when somebody is moving a house or pulling a missile silo down the road.

The trip becomes a little interesting during spring planting and harvest time. People don't always understand that a farmer hauling a wagon full of grain can't travel at 55 mph. So you have to keep an eye out for the tractors and trailers full of hay bales. All that weight cannot stop on a dime.

But my personal favorite type of road hazard on Hwy. 59 is, of course, all the deer. In the fall of 2001 I got my limit on deer during that year's hunting season and I don't even own a shotgun, just a '86 Dodge Ram. I like to call her the "Deer Slayer 5000," A total of five deer collided with my pick-up. Once a buck ran in front of me and after the fur was done flying, my hood flew up and darkness enveloped the cab of the truck. Trying to pull over onto a shoulder when you can't see is very tricky. That experience was more frightening than actually hitting the deer.

But the most dangerous thing on the road has to be other drivers. During this past week, I've noticed an increase in drivers who, for some reason, have to travel three feet behind me. Most of the time, you don't even see where they came from. One moment you're the only car on the road and the next moment you look up into your rearview mirror and there are two headlights staring back at you. If you're lucky, the car might pass you and be on its way.

Once in awhile, there might be three or four cars ahead of myself and the car behind me feels the need to pass all of us, either by passing us all at once or leap frogging one car at a time. It always amazes me when this happens. By the time everyone gets to the same stop sign, the person who just passed us all is waiting there at the same time I get there. And the funny part is that by the time everyone gets through all the stoplights on the north side of town and we reach downtown, I'm somehow in front of the person who passed me three miles earlier.

These people who like to endanger all of our lives in pursuit of gaining a minute or two always surprise me. Sadly, this last week marked the beginning of school and the increase of student drivers and mini-vans with children inside have been part of this disturbing trend.

I hope people will set their alarm clocks a little earlier. It might give them plenty of time to get where they need to go, because the life that you might save is not just mine but your own or even your child's.

Mike Leckband
From the Midway