Open letter to the teen who nearly died yesterday in Englewood

Dear teen driving the car on Walnut Street;

You nearly died yesterday because you were impatient and you thought you were owed the right-of-way making a left turn onto National Road.

From page 36 of the Ohio Digest of Motor Vehicle Laws on left hand turns;

Is required to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. Prior to engaging a left-hand turn, the driver must wait for oncoming traffic to clear the intersection. One may advance into the intersection as a prelude to turning, provided that no other traffic control devices prohibit this action.

I was the vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. I outweighed you by at least two tons. If I had hit you, one of us would have gone to the hospital and it would not have been me.

You did not have the right-of-way simply because you were waiting longer than I was at the 2-way stop. Yes, I have been where you were, trying to make a left-hand turn onto a busy road at 4:00pm. Yes, the lights in “downtown” Englewood are timed badly, if at all. Yes, it is maddening that others pull up in the opposite direction to make a right-hand turn just as the road looks like it is clearing up.

But your sense of what is fair does not give you the right to punch the gas and pull in front of me simply because you felt it was your turn to go. The traffic laws do not work that way. Life does not work that way. Your sense of fairness nearly cost you your life. Defending traffic laws are not worth dying over.

You are very lucky that I yielded my right-of-way to you, even though I really didn’t have to. I have seen other drivers in my situation who would have pushed their advantage. The look on your face clearly indicated that you thought I was the one in the wrong, so I suspect you learned nothing from our chance encounter. Perhaps by luck, you will read this open letter.

I understand you may not have received as much training as you needed from our local driving school. I know my two kids did not. I also know from experience that the “testing” given by the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles is not all that hard to pass. A drunken monkey could pass that test. But that really is no excuse to not know some basic right-of-way laws.

Few interactions on the road determine whether you live or die behind the wheel than knowing who has the right-of-way and when. Please learn these laws. And when in doubt, yield the right-of-way and live to drive another day.

It’s not about fair. Ultimately, it’s about surviving other drivers. You should not also have to fight yourself.


Rufus Dogg.

4 Replies to “Open letter to the teen who nearly died yesterday in Englewood”

  1. Well written as always. It is so true that right of way is a major item.

    I’ve taken issue with the Motorcycles are Everywhere signs. My husband has a cycle and drives, but yet I still take issue. I have been in more close encounters with cycle riders that give these posters a bad name. Rolling stops, if a stop at all and careless behavior cause me to Pffft every time I see one.

  2. Oh, do not even get me started on motorcycles. I know responsible riders, but those who dodge and weave behind you, do the rolling stop and drive between cars during traffic jams give them all a bad name.

    And those kids on crotch rockets! What the hell are their parents thinking!! Especially the ones who don’t wear helmets.. and the girls who ride on the back.. I want to just shake them into some common sense! No guy worth going out with would ever, ever, ever ask you to ride on the back of one of those things.

  3. Oh, geez, stuff like this scares me to death. LA is a driving town and I’m always on the lookout for the angry/crazy/late/distracted folks on the road.

    Which is pretty much everyone in town.

    😉 Anna

  4. In Ohio, we have a concealed carry law, so you never know which nut-job-having-a-bad-day-claiming-the-right-of-way is packing. While not really alpha dog behavior, it is always best to yield the right-of-way to whomever wants to take it ’round here.

    I can deal with the folks who know the law and decide to break it. I have a harder time with those who choose to remain ignorant but certain they are right.

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