Driving in Waco: A confession and a warning

By Ferrell Foster

First, I should confess that I have a problem. I tend to get a bit aggressive when driving, especially regarding people who speed up to get ahead and pull in front of me and then break because they were going too fast. It’s especially irritating when there is plenty of space behind me.

I don’t mean to get aggressive, but I do. I think it’s part of getting older. I can no longer take out my competitiveness on a sporting field. My two human wheels no longer work so well, so I need to give my four automotive wheels a workout.

You’re probably wondering if I have an aggression problem in general. No. It’s really odd that the only time I really get wound up is when I drive around stupid people. And then I get stupid right along with them. (Forgive me, Mom; I know I’m not supposed to call anyone stupid, including myself. Moms haunt us even when we are 65.)

Now, for a public safety warning. It’s not a warning about me. I’ve only had one wreck in my 50 years of driving. Even when dealing with road rage, I tend to obey the laws.

Many of you know that I only moved to Waco last year and didn’t drive much in the early months because of the need to hide from other people due to COIVD. As things have gotten closer to normal, one thing has stood out vividly.

People in Waco like to run red lights. I don’t know if the yellow lights are shorter than in most places or if Wacoans are more impatient or more distracted by their phones. Maybe it’s just peer pressure; when everyone seems to be running red lights you feel a certain cultural pressure to conform and speed up on red. Check your rearview mirror if you are stopping under a yellow light; you may have to let off your brake.

Is this my imagination? Or is it just the traffic corridor that connects my office with my house — roughly the Extraco Events Center to near Hewitt?

Last year I wrote several pieces under the heading of being “New to Waco,” at the request of Ashley Thornton. I still feel new in some ways and thought I should warn those who are newer than me.

Of course, every town has its red-light runners, but they seem to have multiplied here. It seems with each light change it is more likely that someone will run a red light than that no one will. And I’m not talking about the light turning red while the car is already in the box; I’m talking about blatant red running.

So, for all of my love for this community, this is one thing that’s a little scary. When entering an intersection, be sure to look both left and right. There are people out there who are either color blind or cavalier about the meaning of a bright red light hanging from a pole in the middle of the street.

Let’s be careful out there so we can enjoy one another. And I promise I’m working on my driving. I’m seeking to make driving a moment of Zen so I can pretend the goings on around me are peripheral to reality. Of course, the truth is that Zen or no Zen, we can kill each other out there in a blink of the eye or a glance at a phone.

I’m loving Waco, even on the road.

Ferrell Foster is acting executive director of Act Locally Waco and senior content specialist for care and communication with Prosper Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].