Bad Driving, Baristaville

BY  |  Monday, Jun 27, 2011 2:24pm  |  COMMENTS (28)

There was a lot of bad driving in the greater Baristaville area this past weekend — though we all know that’s kind of status quo. It was worse than usual, however, with two tragic incidents resulting in pedestrian fatalities in Newark on Saturday.

According to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, at approximately 3:22 a.m., on June 25, Danny Bynum, 43, of Newark was struck and killed in the vicinity of Madison and South 16th Street by a black Mazda traveling at a high rate of speed. Towanna Glanton, 18, of Newark has been charged with vehicular homicide in connection with Bynum’s death. She was coming from a nightclub at the time of the collision, and was also charged with driving while intoxicated.

Later that same day Malik Mohammad, 49, of Irvington was also struck and killed. That incident occurred in the vicinity of South Orange Avenue and South 11th Street in Newark. The preliminary investigation indicates the vehicle that struck Mr. Mohammad was a stolen pick up truck. No arrests have been made in that case.

But dangerous drivers aren’t only found in our county’s urban locations.

In Glen Ridge, photographer S.J. Streeter caught a belligerent rule-breaker (pictured above) in the act yesterday evening, during the Lager Run.

She said:

As if this officer wasn’t busy enough redirecting traffic, with both Belleville & Highland Avenues closed to vehicles, I watched as this driver asked to be allowed to enter Highland Avenue. While the cop explained that the road was closed, the driver nonetheless demanded to be let through. Another “no.” When the officer’s back was turned, the guy attempted to sneak through the barricade anyway. Caught in the act, this bad driver got a brief lecture on pedestrian safety and had to back out and turn right like everybody else.

Are you one of the many road menaces out there recklessly operating 4,000 pounds of steel at fatal impact speed? Or maybe you know someone who think the rules and laws apply to everyone but them? Is this arrogance, oblivion or what? Do you think NJ drivers are worse than others, or is the whole country (world?) full of crazed drivers? Take our poll:

Need a reminder of the pedestrian safety laws? Click here.

Photo by S.J. Streeter.


  1. POSTED BY Erika Bleiberg  |  June 27, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    I was recently on a road trip in Quebec, CA, where they seem to drive with little regard to any rules whatsoever. According to locals, the Quebecois drivers are said to be “even worse than NJ drivers.” All I can say is, I felt right at home on the roads, and employed my usual blend of assertive/defensive/nerves-of-steel techniques when behind the wheel.

  2. POSTED BY Kristin  |  June 27, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    I grew up (and learned to drive) in Massachusetts. I’d say the reputation of MA drivers is pretty bad. However, having driven quite a bit in Manhattan/Brooklyn, Upstate NY, and now NJ – I think there is plenty of aggression and oblivious behavior to go around. My father taught me to drive with a “defensive driver” mentality. Who cares if that car passes you? And getting that yellow light by speeding up saves you a minute or two, not worth near misses or an accident.

    I think it’s numbers, non-grid roads (at least in Boston!), being unfamiliar with streets, and a White Rabbit “hurryhurry” mentality (we’re reading Alice right now). I’m sure I could come up with a few more excuses in time. In NJ, for one thing, the right-turn on red issue makes crossing streets on foot treacherous; a lot of people don’t even stop before taking the turn.

  3. POSTED BY Conan  |  June 27, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

    There drivers here in NJ like no others, and more of them. They are poorly trained if at all, have no regard for anyone or anything other than themselves, are more distracted and have more things going on at the same time than any others I have ever seen. If you can afford a $90,000 car or SUV, maybe the first thing you should learn is how to drive it properly. I live on a dead-end street by an elementary school and I am constantly amazed at how many drivers cannot make a simple three-point turn, how many are totally oblivious to the fact that there are lots of kids crossing the driveways they pull into to make their U-ies, and how many of them wind up driving on parts of my lawn.
    I drove in New England for many years, and although there are fast, reckless, and agressive drivers there, at least they are (1) good at it and (2) consistent. You can expect a Mass driver to do something monumentally stupid at any given moment. Around here, you never know when they are going to try and kill you.

  4. POSTED BY kay  |  June 27, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

    Hear, hear, Conan!

    You all know how I feel about drivers in NJ. I stick by my original opinion.

    This past weekend, the parking stupidity on Forest St. near Egan’s was beyond the pale. You can barely get down the street, two cars certainly can’t pass, you can hardly see to turn, and then you really can’t even turn because the cars were parked up so close to the corner that I think they were actually sticking out into Walnut. I WISH I had a beat up old truck that I could just start smashing stupidity instead of giving myself ulcers. Oh wait, did I say that out loud?

    I truly believe that bad drivers beget more bad drivers. The licensing requirements in this state, unless I am wrong, actually permit a Bad Driver to teach a New Bad Driver on the road. No behind-the-wheel by an actual instructor is required. And the driving exam, on that ridiculous obstacle course in the parking lot behind the DMV, is an absolute joke. New drivers should be tested on REAL roads, not on a bike path.

    So in other words, we have no one else to blame.

    In addition, we have a segment of the population that is just plain evil. The ones that purposely don’t yield at the sign and cause you to take evasive action to avoid a collision. The ones that don’t look and just start changing lanes right into your fender. The ones that drive in the left turn lane only to cut everyone off right at the intersection in order to go straight, or wait until the last second to cut into the exit lane. These people aren’t distracted or necessarily poorly-taught – they are Willfully Rotten and there is a special circle of hell reserved just for them.

    I wish they would hurry up and invent teleportation so that I could avoid this agita every day!

  5. POSTED BY montoverrated  |  June 27, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

    It is not just the volume of people or that NJ drivers are particularly bad, but the traffic law enforcement in Baristaville is abysmal. When previous readers talk about inability to go down a street or turn a corner it is not just because people have been inconsiderate and parked illegally, it is ultimately because the mayor of Montclair and the rest of the township leadership – not to mention the police force – fail to enforce the law on a systematic basis.

    As a result, for instance, we have an interesting irony that this so-called liberal leaning area gives an extra free ride to church goers on Sundays and other days on Church St., Montclair – it is a parking free-for-all and cars are parked illegally in the entire area. Try to do that in the same place on a non-Sunday!

    Yes this is a hazard, for instance if an ambulance or a fire engine needed to get close to a building. But that is not the problem of the people that go to church, evidently, as it is not the problem for the police officers who drive by and ignore it.

    But I’m sure that a fire will never happen in downtown Montclair, and if it did that the individuals parked illegally in front of the burning building would make moving their cars their top priority at the moment.

    This certainly seems to be the premise upon which the town operates.

  6. POSTED BY Nellie  |  June 27, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    Remember, New Jersey boasts the poster boy for bad driving, Jon Corzine. Hope you buckle up now, Jon.

  7. POSTED BY MellonBrush  |  June 27, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

    New Jersey drivers got nothing on this guy.

  8. POSTED BY johnleesandiego  |  June 27, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

    Nellie, I think you are mistaken with regard to the Jersey Poster Boy for bad driving, Corzine was a passenger. Chris Christie on the other drove over someone while driving the wrong way on a one way street then used his position as a US attorney to avoid any responsibility for the injuries caused to the innocent civilian.

  9. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  June 27, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

    Having grown up in NYC, I think NJ bad drivers are a bit better than NYC drivers.

    I also wonder if there is a correlation between Holy Cities and bad drivers.
    Rome and Jerusalem are both extremely dangerous for pedestrians, on account of the maniacal drivers there. I’ve been to both places, you need to stay extremely alert in both.

  10. POSTED BY Nellie  |  June 27, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

    Johnlee, whether Corzine was driving or was a passenger, he wasn’t wearing a seat belt, which was just dumb, not to mention unlawful.. And I speak as someone who survived a very bad car accident on the Parkway last winter….I don’t like to think about what the outcome would have been if I hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt.

    While Corzine was my example, I hardly think bad driving is a psrtisan issue. If you want to make it one, we can discuss Ted Kennedy, who used his position as a Kennedy to avoid responsibility in the death of a young woman. But I just don’t think it’s necessary to go there.

  11. POSTED BY PAZ  |  June 27, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

    Oh God, here we go again! Can’t we just talk about 4 way stop signs and not get into bringing up partisan politics? Stop wearing your politicians on your shirt sleeves just put them on gold chains and tuck them under your shirt.

  12. POSTED BY sdmb143  |  June 27, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

    Blinkers? What blinkers?

  13. POSTED BY Nellie  |  June 28, 2011 @ 7:47 am

    Of course, there are more bad liberal drivers on the road. The conservatives are in helicopters…

    Oh, and Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

  14. POSTED BY deadeye  |  June 28, 2011 @ 8:24 am

    John, It’s not like Corzine and his driver were a couple of pals out for a joy ride. The governor had directed his driver to speed and willfully ignored the state’s seatbelt law. Thankfully he wasn’t killed. Ridiculous.

    The church parking issue is also ridiculous and neurotic, and seems to mask the poster’s real issue. Come on, we’re a little intolerant. Come on, what is it really?

    Will someone please tell the second car, behind the one going through the intersection at a 4 way stop, that they must also stop? Happens constantly on Bellevue, and also Lorraine. This applies to mommies on cell phone and landscapers as well…

    Other issues: The “Jersey left”: the “I think I can make it” drivers pulling into traffic: the “I wonder if he’ll stop” games played by pedestrians to gauge compliance with the crossing rules, which is abysmal really even without the surprise factor thrown in…

    Great posts, Conan and Kay.

  15. POSTED BY Howard Beale  |  June 28, 2011 @ 8:44 am

    Kay, both of my sons had to have a certain amount of professional driving instruction to get their license. I’m fairly sure it’s required. Did it make them better drivers? I’m not really sure. Making this a requirement doesn’t stop the state from issuing a NJ license to a bad driver who moves in from another state. How many of you are native Jerseyans, born and bred.

  16. POSTED BY Sandy  |  June 28, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    Why does everyone tailgate? I look in my R.V. Mirror and 8 out of 10 times, I cannot even see the car’s headlights in my r.v. mirror.
    SUV drivers all drive like they are being chased by the cops!

  17. POSTED BY mike 91  |  June 28, 2011 @ 9:30 am

    There’s bad driving, which is essentially not having the skills to operate your car, and then there’s the “rules don’t apply to me” attitude, which I think is the real culprit in NJ. The “jersey left,” lack of turn signals, bad parking; I think all of it is borne of a mentality that “I’m in a hurry, so I can do what I want.” More than once I wished I was driving my old Buick Century so that if I ran into one of these dodos I wouldn’t care.

    I will admit to exceeding the speed limit on occasion however. I blame my car, which is sporty and the lure of the right pedal cannot be ignored. I have never been in an accident (knock wood), because of my superhuman reflexes. I’m hoping my wife eventually gets the hint and sends me to one of the driving schools the manufacturer of my car sponsors.

  18. POSTED BY kay  |  June 28, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    OMG Deadeye! You are so right about those 4-ways! I have never seen a better demonstration of driver’s ed failure than that! Each.Car.Must.Stop! How hard is that to comprehend? Is this topic *not* covered in the NJ driver’s manual??

    Howard, I freely admit I am not a NJ native and the only hurdle to obtaining my NJ license was taking the written exam. I used to think the drivers were crazy in SoCal, but at least as of when I left, they were better on the whole than drivers here.

    Just looked up the NJ license requirements.

    Unless I am reading it incorrectly, the only time a driver needs to prove they’ve taken a driving class is to get a learner’s permit at age 16.

    If one waits til age 17 to obtain the learner’s permit, all one has to do is pass the written test, and drive for at least 6 months with a licensed driver over age 21 who has 3 years’ experience. So this means, people with no real training are teaching other drivers. God help us!

    OH and also, new drivers have to display that badge of shame on their license plate. Which means I have to put it on MY car when my kid starts learning to drive?! I thought they overturned that law?? So I’m (cough) 29 years old and have to put a newbie sticker on my car as I slog to work every day?

    One last complaint – the type of car needed to take the obstacle course road test. Can’t have a center console because examiner must be able to reach either the foot brake or parking brake. Do cars even have emergency brakes in the center anymore? Does they even *make* cars without a console these days? And you can’t rent a car for this endeavor unless the student’s name is on the rental agreement (which can’t be done, because the the kid isn’t licensed yet. Duh!) So will one of you lend me a suitable car when it comes time for my girl to take her exam??

    And besides that, how likely is it that an applicant is going to hike it up to 90 MPH in the parking lot such that the examiner is in fear for his life and needs access to the brake?! Really? I took my test, on a REAL road, in my ’66 Skylark and the brake was the foot style all the way on the left. He and I both survived.


  19. POSTED BY kay  |  June 28, 2011 @ 10:35 am

    Just found this interesting site:

    Some states require no official training at all. These include, besides our dear Garden State: Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Dakota. Some require that the supervising adult licensed driver ‘certify’ that the new driver performed a certain number of hours driving with the supervising adult. (well, that’s reassuring!)

    No other State but NJ requires any type of new driver decal.

  20. POSTED BY ghostwriter  |  June 28, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    NJ is pretty bad, but I think Montclair drivers are horrible! I should have taken a picture of the guy trying to parallel park on Upper Mountain at Mountainside pool on Sat. No joke- it took him 8 trys. This was a LARGE spot, almost two spots…it was just an embarrassment, ending up slighly on the curb. I grew up here, and honestly, once I moved away I was called lead foot. It took some getting used to the slower pace, but it was forced upon me with the amount of speeding tickets I received. Now that I have moved back, I see there is a big difference in how people drive here. Just my 2 cents.

  21. POSTED BY textwoman2011  |  June 28, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    I lived in Orlando FL from 1987-2001. Since this is a mecca for tourists and transplants from all over the country/world, this is where I saw the worst driving. People who were lost, people confused by signage, people confused by new roads that weren’t on maps yet, people who made bad decisions, people who are aggressive, passive, you name it. And of course, no respect for pedestrians. As you can see the worst drivers from everywhere go to Orlando! I learned patience there and then moved back to NJ.

  22. POSTED BY deadeye  |  June 28, 2011 @ 11:10 am

    I took my NJ drivers test in the mid 70’s in a friend’s parent’s Pontiac Le Mans. My family had a 1973 Audi at the time which was potentially one of the worst cars ever made, and had a center console, which made it ineligible to take the driver’s test in. We had driver’s ed in school, where we watched movies as we sat at desks with wheels and gas and brake pedals. Later I got to drive around with my gym/driver’s ed teacher as he checked out local real estate listings. As quaint as that experience may seem, it cannot help but occur to me that many of todays young drivers would benefit from something similar.

    Not to just pick on new drivers, as the population ages, I also think that older drivers should be required to take a re-certification road test of some sort. I recently experienced driving with an older gentleman and came away with this unescapable conclusion. Sight, hearing, and reflexes begin to deteriorate, and even the best driver’s capacity becomes diminished at some point.

    And, for the love of god, please require people from the far reaches of the planet to take a driving test if they settle in the Garden State.

    Going back to the article, the poor fellow that was run down in Newark at 3:30 in the morning was struck by a car that was fleeing the police, I believe. IMHO, the consequences of a police chase in Newark, in the middle of the night, thankfully, don’t have much to do with the garden variety driving experience here. Lets hope it stays that way.

  23. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  June 28, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    My pill popping co-workers in on the phone right now talking to a car insurance company about yet another accident she was in that, again, wasn’t her fault. As regular as daylight savings with the fender benders yet teflon.

  24. POSTED BY deadeye  |  June 28, 2011 @ 11:28 am

    Last word: For those more uninhibited drivers that think that traffic signs are just suggestions, the consequences of making that right on red, talking on the cell phone or rolling through the stop sign are, at a minimum, in the neighborhood of $250, unless you choose to get points and have your insurance carrier notified, in which case the ultimate expense could be significantly higher. I had to sit in Montclair traffic court for a couple of hours last year because of a computer error on a parking ticket that I had paid (major league PITA) and there was a conga line of these unfortunates breaking out their check books, so it looks like the traffic rules are being enforced.

  25. POSTED BY johnleesandiego  |  June 28, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    Since we’re on the subject of partisan driving habits, brought up by Nellie with her orginal Corzine post, just do a quick drive thru of the teaparty haven of Nutley …. every time I have seen a cop parked at the side of the road waiting for a traffic violation, he was picking his nose, what’s that about?

  26. POSTED BY Nellie  |  June 28, 2011 @ 11:49 am

    johnlee, you obviously didn’t read my follow-up comment. I said I brought up Corzine because of my own car accident..And I clearly said driving is not a partisan issue.

    I’m glad for you that you have enough free time to drive around Nutley and watch cops pick their noses. That’s an enviable life indeed.

  27. POSTED BY kay  |  June 28, 2011 @ 11:58 am

    LOL Johnlee!

    As long as they don’t touch the donuts afterward!

  28. POSTED BY johnleesandiego  |  June 28, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

    OMG @kay … I was driving over to the Green Grocer in Rutherford which means a drive through Nutley and past the Dunkin Donuts on Washington Avenue – Six (and I am not just using six because it is the Sesame Street Number of the day, although I do like the cooincidence) police cars were in the lot. I pulled into the car wash, got out my camera because the shot would have been classic! Lo and behold I was told I was not allowed to take the picture. (Since I really want to get my Tamarind I didn’t want to go through the whole deal about there being no such law about photographing police) BUT the point is, that donue thing is real. I thought that was just one tee vee.

    So if the donut thing is real, I wonder if the Real Housewive of NJ is real. Hmmmmm.

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