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Flossing tools, manhole covers and roundabouts

Robert Houk • Apr 13, 2019 at 4:16 PM

Discarded flossing tools. They’re everywhere.

You see these small plastic teeth cleaners in parking lots, on sidewalks and even in the grass of city parks. And while they are meant to be disposable, they are not biodegradable.

These new-fangled dental tools are becoming the cigarette butts of the 21st century.

Whatever happened to old reliable wooden toothpicks?

I can’t get my mind wrapped around this phenomenon. Obviously they were left by someone who cares about his or her own oral hygiene, but who doesn’t give an Al Gore about our environment.

And what kind of person flosses his teeth in a grocery store parking lot? Have you no shame?

It’s maddening.

That’s just one of my many pet peeves that come to mind in spring. Another is the tooth-jarring problem caused by raised manhole covers found on so many of our local streets.

Public works crews do their best to patch potholes created by winter’s fluctuating temperatures, but they seem helpless to solve the headaches caused by manhole covers.

Why can’t paving crews get the street and and these circular demons to meet at the same level? And why do we have so many exposed utility entrances on heavily traveled streets?

It’s mindboggling.

And don’t get me started about street traffic. Why do so many motorists think it’s their constitutional right to drive in the middle of a residential street?

You know who I’m talking about — the monster SUVers and not-so-mini-vaners who won’t get on their side of the road when meeting another car on a neighborhood street. Most city streets are designed to be three-cars wide to allow parking on one side of the road.

Too many motorists, however, seem to be ignorant of this fact. When they meet another vehicle on a city street with parked cars, they think its correct to drive on the centerline.

It’s not. Learn to properly sail that big boat.

Which reminds me of one of the most annoying things I encounter on area streets — motorists who don’t understand the rules of a roundabout. It’s not everyone for himself. There are actually rules spelled out in the Tennessee driver’s handbook.

When reaching a roundabout, you must yield to vehicles already within the circulating traffic. You should observe the standard right-of-way procedures as with regular intersections controlled by yield signs.

This can be troublesome for drivers who also have problems following the rules at three-way and four-way stops.

When inside the roundabout, proceed at a slower speed. You may exit the roundabout at any street or continue around again if you miss the street you wanted to turn on.

In a multi-lane roundabout, do not try to overtake or pass any vehicles. The roundabout is a low-speed traffic control device.

In other words, a roundabout is not the Bristol Motor Speedway.

Be sure to exit the roundabout carefully and always indicate your exit using your right-turn signal.

And don’t forget to watch for pedestrians in or approaching the crosswalk on the street you are exiting onto and yield the right-of-way to them if necessary.

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