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Don't Rush Me


Mr. Crankypants, that's Don. But why?


Numbers don't tell the story . . . or do they?



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October 24, 2012 - Holy Beat Me With A Happy Stick, Batman. I must be cranky or something 'cuz I'm feeling mighty critical these days. "Pour quoi, Donuldo?" you are probably asking yourself right about now.

And, that's the thing. I don't know why. I've tried to figure it out. All I know is some things have made my eyes roll, when they shouldn't have. For example, a while ago I read a news story about a traffic light planned for Sashabaw Road.

It was a harmless little story about Independence Township spending one third of $150,000 worth of 100 percent tax payer money.

When I read the lead, "Drivers will have a seventh stop on Sashabaw now that the township has approved a new traffic light at the intersection of Flemmings Lake and Sashabaw roads" I became indignant to the editorial staff gathered 'round me.

"What another light?! It's gonna be like Southfield here soon. Just what we need, another stinking light to slow us down, wear out our brakes . . . and did you know when I was in school I could ride my bike back and fourth over both lanes of traffic on Sashabaw Road on my way to and from football practice without having to worry about . . ."

From the glazed-over looks on the reporter-types in the room. I think they heard, "What, another blah, blah, blah?! Southfield. Blah, blah, stinking, blah, blah, blah, when I was blah, blah."

Undeterred I forged ahead with my tirade, "'Long overdue' it says here. 'In the end it's gonna save awful lot of lives,' and wait here's another quote about this project, 'It's important to the safety of citizens.'"

I then did what I frequently do when trying to get a point across -- I whipped up support data for my argument. I grabbed my calculator and as I punched in the numbers from the article, I reported aloud what I was doing.

"39,970 vehicles a day pass Flemmings Lake Road via Sashabaw times 365 days a year = 14 million 589 thousand and fifty cars a year go by there. The article says since 2009 there have been 13 crashes there.

So, in three years the number of cars who have passed that intersection trippled and equals 43 million, 767 thousand, one hundred and fifty."

Dead eyes stared blankly back at me.

"If you divide the 13 accidents by the 43 million number, you get . . ." I punched the hand held calculator like the proverbial man on a righteous mission -- with zealous enthusiasm. " . . . wait a minute, you get an accident at Sashabaw and Flemmings Lake Road point zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero two percent of the time."

That was six zeroes, folks. Six.

Now, I know although a location may have a high number of crashes, it does not necessarily mean it is dangerous (crash severity and traffic volume also play a role), and the opposite can also be true.

But, there are other more-crashy sites than Sashabaw and Flemmings Lake. According to Michigan's Traffic Improvement Association folks, in that same period there were 97 crashes at Waldon and Sashabaw, 89 at Maybee and Sashabaw; heck, there were 23 crashes at Oak Hill and Sashabaw Road and 19 at Sashabaw and Pine Knob Road.

I know, I know. You're saying to the loved one across from you, "Mr. Crankypants is being hyper critical about things he really doesn't know much about." I know, because that's the look I was getting from my crib of reporters.

You think I don't know about the government budget credo of "if you don't spend you lose." Oh contrair mon frair, I do realize that.

But gee-whiz, why is it that whenever government types spend money they always feel the need to justify their decisions with quotes like the ones I quoted?

Breathe deep, Don. In with the good, out with the bad.

* * *

As I type, I am anticipating another Monday Night Football blackout at home from the "local" ABC affiliate in Flint, Channel 12.

Last year, when the Detroit Lions played their first Monday Night Football game in a gagillion years, Channel 12 brainiacks didn't air the game, rather Dancin' With the Stars played out before my tear-filled baby blues.

Since I am the cheapest man in town, I don't pay for television programming.

AND I have not seen a single Detroit Tiger baseball playoff game this season (they were on "cable.").

I could have watched the other teams in the playoffs on "free TV", but, they weren't local, so I didn't want to.

This past weekend when we tried to watch the Michigan-Michigan State college football game, we couldn't. It wasn't on the local ABC affiliate like it always has been in the past. It was on the Big10 Network. Frackin' smackin' "cable!"

Hey, I just think I figured out why I'm cranky. (Hint, read the last three paragraphs.) So, I take back my tirade.

* * *

Final note: the WJRT folks at Channel 12 in Flint suck. They again aired Dancing With The Stars instead of the Lions Monday Night Football game. ARRRG!

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: don@dontrushmedon.com
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