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New ‘Warrior’ offers full disclosure

Hi. I’m the new Road Warrior, and I almost killed a bicyclist on Tuesday.

If you have driven around the valley for any amount of time you’ve probably had a similar experience.

I have been driving here for more than a year and a half and every time I get behind the wheel I feel that a life is threatened.

Sometimes mine. Sometimes others’.

It’s not because I’m a terrible driver. While my insurance company might not completely agree with that statement, let’s assign some blame to the drunken drivers. Or to the kids wearing all black and crossing Buffalo Drive in the middle of the night. Or maybe the tourists who mistakenly stray from Las Vegas Boulevard and are as indecisive on the road as a pimply faced 18-year-old choosing between the Can Can Room or Deja Vu.

Now, I’m no saint. I’ve had my share of road miscues and received the occasional well-deserved flash of the bird. So I want you to know that I can relate to the everyday frustrations of driving in Las Vegas.

The blood in my veins pumps hardest when I sit at the light at Flamingo Road and Decatur Boulevard and watch it go through three cycles before I can get through the intersection.

I understand why drivers step on the gas instead of the brake when that light turns yellow. I’ve done it.

But I have seen the other side of that scenario, too.

Before this job, I worked the police beat. I’ve seen the consequences of our driving decisions up close.

I have seen the mangled and twisted metal on the side of the road. And I’ve told the mangled and twisted jokes that help you deal with seeing the yellow tarp and what lies beneath it at a crash scene.

I’ve talked to lucky survivors. I’ve grieved with families who have lost someone.

I’ve also come to know the investigators from different law enforcement agencies who have to figure out how these messes happen. As they shake their heads, these men and women will tell you that most crashes could be avoided if people slowed down and paid attention.

If there is anything that still surprises me, it’s that there aren’t more crashes.

Some drivers here blatantly disregard laws and common courtesy. Of course, none of those drivers read this column.

And then there are those potentially deadly situations that drivers encounter regardless of whether they’re law-abiding or courteous.

Which brings me back to Tuesday and my almost killing a bicyclist on Charleston Boulevard.

Maybe killed is too strong a word, but I certainly could have maimed him.

Technically, he wasn’t a bicyclist in the spandex-wearing-athlete sense of the word. He was just a guy on a bike wearing khaki pants and a button-down shirt who probably wasn’t paying attention to the crosswalk signal.

He was traveling east on the south side of Charleston. I was stopped at the light, facing north on Martin Luther King Boulevard in the far-right lane.

The light turned green and the car in front of me sped off.

As I stepped on the gas, I saw out of the corner of my eye that the vehicles to my left weren’t moving.

Then I saw the guy on the bike.

I slammed on the brakes with both feet. He passed. I honked and yelled that he could get himself “(expletive) killed.” I drove off shaking my head.

I have several goals as the new transportation columnist. One is to get everyone to wear a seat belt.

Do drivers realize that about 50 percent of the people who died in crashes investigated by Las Vegas police last year weren’t wearing a seat belt? A seat belt wouldn’t have saved everyone, but I know it saved me when I had my life-altering car wreck — a story I will share with you soon.

Beyond my wishful thinking about seat belts, I hope to help readers with their commutes, find and tell some quirky stories and, most of all, avoid killing bicyclists, pedestrians and other warm-blooded creatures trolling our byways.

This column has always relied on you, the reader, and I hope to continue to rely on your observations, complaints, questions and criticisms. Please continue to e-mail and call.

I will do my best to answer your questions and hopefully find solutions that will get you home in one piece.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Francis McCabe at 387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number.

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