All right, Texas, it’s time to talk about driving habits.

I was going to let this one go, but then I was hit by a car while taking my daily walk.

I’ve lived in a good number of states — Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nebraska and North Dakota — and much of the time, I lived along a state’s border. I’ve seen drivers from more than two-thirds of the United States. In all of my experience, Texas drivers are the worst on the road bar none — and it makes no sense when you consider the state’s welcome slogan: “Drive Friendly — The Texas Way.”

What?

Where’s the friendly way outside my office across Loop 286 from the shopping center when horns are blaring in full Doppler effect all day long as people try to merge onto the loop from Lamar Avenue, exit the loop to Lamar Avenue or pull out of the shopping center directly onto the loop? Is it the friendly way when drivers roll through yield signs in the turn lanes from Lamar Avenue to the loop access road by Walgreens? Is all the tailgating considered the friendly way?

Let me tell you about my trip back from Nebraska. First, I will say that semi drivers are the worst in Nebraska. Many of the highways are four lanes, and it almost never fails that a semi will pull into the passing lane in front of you, slowing you down considerably, just to go as fast as the semi they’re attempting to pass — for dozens of miles. It’s infuriating and one of the reasons I opted to take two-lane highways back to Texas. That took us through Colorado and the Oklahoma panhandle, which is all wide open space with very straight, clear roads.

I set the cruise control a few miles per hour over the posted speed limit. The first vehicle to pass us had a Texas license plate, and my wife and I chuckled about there being another Texan on the way home. It was the first of many Texas vehicles that passed us, and the only one to do so in a legal passing zone. It didn’t matter if it was a double yellow line, a solid yellow line on our side of the road or even a construction zone where the other lane was not to be used, Texas drivers were adamant about doing 90 mph and passing regardless of whether it was legal. Every vehicle but one that passed us was from Texas, and the one Colorado driver — you won’t believe this — passed when our side of the road opened to two lanes with a passing lane. How novel.

As I said, I was willing to let all that go unsaid, bygones being bygones and all, but then I was hit by a car on my daily walk near my house. I was walking along the main street and crossed in front of a side street. A driver was approaching the stop sign on that side street, but failed to slow enough to stop before rolling out into the main road and into me. I was able to plant my hand on the hood and simultaneously push and jump to keep the vehicle from hitting my legs. The clang of my wedding ring on the driver’s hood was the alert that they nearly hit someone, and as I looked back, the driver mouthed “I’m so sorry.”

The very next day, I was driving past that street on my way to the store when a similar looking vehicle — it may have been the same one, but I’m not sure — rolled through that stop sign and into the main road again.

Texans, we need to drive better. We need to remember how to drive defensively, remember safe distances for following vehicles, remember to watch where you’re going and remember to obey traffic laws. I’ve looked around at various “worst drivers” lists. Texas appears in the top 10 of several. There are some where Texas doesn’t make the top 10, but Texas is nowhere to be found on any “best drivers” lists.

Don’t we want to be the best?

Klark Byrd is the managing editor of The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6960 or klark.byrd@theparisnews.com.

Managing Editor

Klark Byrd is the managing editor of The Paris News and the editor of Paris Life Magazine. He resides in Paris with his wife, Krystle, and their three children, Charlie, Annalise and Willow.

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