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Foreign driversPosted Monday, April 7, 2008, at 1:48 PM
I'm writing moments after returning from an accident Monday afternoon in which, thankfully, no one was injured but a lot of feelings were ruffled.
Police and witnesses said the wreck was caused by a driver who "didn't slow down" and "didn't hit her brakes" before plowing into three vehicles in front of Lee Adcock Construction, on the portion of North Jefferson Street known as Hoodlum Alley.
The driver was Somalian. And some of the crowd of bystanders were loudly making their feelings known about it as three Somali men and a Somali woman quietly stood on the sidelines.
"They go around running into people and have no insurance," was the most commonly heard thought.
But, as a co-worker here at the T-G commented about the community's attitude in general about these accidents, "You can't be prejudiced." She's right. At least, we shouldn't be prejudiced.
Keeping a politically correct attitude becomes a little hard for some, though, when it seems the same ethnic groups constantly become involved in traffic accidents. Over the weekend I watched a young Somalian woman calmly drive down the concrete median of North Cannon Boulevard. And, a while back, I watched a Hispanic driver pass a long line of cars stopped on Hickory Drive, then pull in front of oncoming traffic onto North Main Street.
My concern, and I hope this never happens, is that sooner or later someone of foreign ethnicity is going to run into someone, or a group of someones, who respond violently. Hopefully cooler heads will always prevail.
It's hard to regulate unlicensed drivers for an obvious reason: The law enforcement system has no contact with them until they get into trouble. But some businesses, such as the Times-Gazette, conduct regular safety meetings concerning things you'd think everyone knows.
Those firms who employ large numbers of foreigners should do the same concerning driving, and keep going over the rules over and over. Would it help? Maybe. It certainly couldn't hurt anything.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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