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A Bad Driver’s Guide to Driving in Columbus

614now Staff

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Driving stresses me out. Any kind of moderate to heavy traffic nearly sends me into a blind rage, as I imagine it does to the many other drivers forced to watch the precious moments of their personal time slowly tick away during rush hour. I’ve spent the majority of my life in Ohio, with the past decade here in Columbus, and I’ve got to say, we are the absolute worst when it comes to driving.

We’re pushy and impatient like defensive big city drivers, but with the confidence of an excessively cautious driver’s ed. student. Not that I have any room to judge, I’m admittedly a terrible driver —but knowing that makes me slightly less insufferable to share the road with — and I think with just a little more self-awareness, we could all be better terrible drivers.

We all hate being stuck in traffic…

But that doesn’t mean you can treat the shoulder like it’s your own personal carpool lane.

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There’s always that one perfect asshole who takes it upon themselves to scare the life out of everyone in the far lane by gunning it all the way up the shoulder of the highway. You know who your are. And I hope you get stuck at every single red light on High Street.

Intersection etiquette is completely lost on us…

If you pull up to an intersection to find that the traffic light is out, treat it like a four-way stop. If you’re unsure of what I mean by “treat it like a four-way stop,” then you probably shouldn’t be driving in the first place.

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I’d also like to point out that two roads intersecting to form what looks like a four-way stop, doesn’t necessarily mean that it actually is a four-way stop. If you don’t see a big red octagon next to your car, then you don’t have to stop. (Looking at you, Polaris drivers.)

Merging and yielding are two very different actions…

Coming to a complete stop, flipping your blinker on, and waiting for an opening that you feel you can confidently shimmy your car into is not merging, it’s a disruption to the flow of traffic. Which, ironically, defeats the purpose of the merging lane altogether.

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Just keep your car moving while you look for an opening, I promise you someone will let you over before your lane disappears. And if they don’t, you have the shoulder to act as your buffer—provided that there’s no maniac claiming it as his own. (See how terrible driving begets terrible driving?)

And oh my god, driving anywhere in the rain…

I can’t understand why every highway in Columbus turns into the wild west whenever it rains. We live in Ohio. It rains ALL the time. It rains even more than it used to, we don’t even have Spring or Autumn anymore, it’s just one big grey wet season. Figure out how to drive in it before you kill us all.

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As a whole, we need to take more responsibility for the fact that we’re operating literal death machines on a regular basis. And if we can just take a little more ownership of the fact that our driving is probably just as terrible as the person’s we’re giving the finger to, then maybe we can turn our bad rep around. Because whether we like it or not (and we obviously don’t) we’re all in this together—at least until Columbus wises up and launches some sort of public rail system, then you’re all on your own. Until then, just take the bus.

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Maria Maggio is a copywriter and two-time Fantasy Football champion based out of Columbus, Ohio. She is currently working on a podcast about motherhood. Her work can be found at www.mariawrotethis.com.

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Govt & Politics

Op-Ed: We won battle with Heartbeat Bill block, war continues

Caitlin Horwatt

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Ohio’s controversial “Heartbeat Bill” has been ​blocked by a federal court​, just days before it was slated to go into enforcement on July 11. The ruling is a temporary win for pro-reproductive rights activists and Planned Parenthood, ensuring that abortion clinics in the state of Ohio can stay open. But, the war over a woman’s right to her bodily autonomy is only ramping up.

The law would have banned abortions in the state of Ohio after six weeks, the earliest time in a pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat may be detected and well before many women know they are pregnant. There were to be no exceptions for rape or incest, although there would be exceptions when the life of the mother was in danger. The law would have classified violations as fifth-degree felonies, carrying up to one year in jail time and up to $2,500 in fines as a sentence.

The ​halt was ordered ​by Judge Michael Barrett of the Southern District of Ohio U.S. District Court. Barrett pointed out that the bill placed an “undue burden” on a woman seeking to terminate a pre-viability pregnancy. The law was on its face unconstitutional, a blatant attempt to overturn the federal government’s long standing decision to give women the right to the decisions regarding their bodies. Conservatives have tried to limit bodily autonomy well before women had the right to abortions; however, they fail to attack problems like infant poverty and child hunger with the same veracity.

The bill was part of a larger strategy that’s occurred nationwide at the hands of Republican lawmakers. The right to an abortion will stand nationally as long as Supreme Court rulings, including ​Roe v. Wade,​ remain in effect. By hammering out heartbeat bills nationwide, conservatives increase their chances of getting a ruling appealed up to the Supreme Court and from there the conservative-leaning court overturning ​Roe​.

Abortions are not only justified in the case of rape or incest, which has been a clickbait-inducing theme around this controversy. Abortion is a part of reproductive healthcare, a procedure nearly one in four women​ have before the age of 45. If lawmakers are so concerned about decreasing abortion rates, presumably because of a concern for the lives of the fetuses, they should fund comprehensize sex education ​and support for impoverished children already in this country.

The right to an abortion goes further than an outright ban. Strict regulations are a backdoor way to limit abortions, claiming to regulate the abortion providers for safety purposes. The state of Missouri​ famously has just one embattled abortion clinic ​still open and providing procedures, with the fight to keep the clinic licensed and running regularly boiling down to the wire in the past several months.

It is easy to move on from this debate when a new shocking headline runs about the state of politics or the crisis at the border. Wins like this, though important, cannot be accepted as permanent. As long as conservative lawmakers are proposing bills and regulations that limit abortion care, there is a battle to be fought, because we won’t go back.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: Heartbeat Bill will likely affect 11yo Ohio rape victim

Caitlin Horwatt

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The passage of Ohio’s recent “heartbeat bill,” signed by Governor DeWine, marks a massive and distressing win in the conservative quest to outright ban abortion. All parties supporting the bill—from DeWine to legislators and lobbyists—are well aware that the action will be blocked by courts as they uphold Roe v. Wade, which protects the right to abortion until 24 weeks gestation. We should be frightened as we explore whether their big picture goal is to get Roe v. Wade overturned by the decidedly conservative Court.

By banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected, the law prohibits abortion as early as eight weeks, well before many women know they are pregnant. Add in the already mandatory twenty-four hour waiting period between first appointment and procedure, and the likelihood of legal abortion for even a pregnancy detected early seems slim. The law is an blatant attempt to ban women’s right to choose.

The Guttmacher Institute found that ​1 in 4 women​ has had an abortion before age 45. The Pew Research Center found that ​58% of Americans support legal abortion ​in all or most cases, with polarizing views against abortion coming mostly from Republican and religious Americans. These statistics fail to depict, though, how traumatic the impact can be for women forced to carry a child to term when she does not have the means or support to do so. The law is meant to protect the fetus at a term that is far earlier than the 22 to 24 weeks at which it is viable, all at the cost of the mother.

The bill notably does not give exceptions for cases of rape and incest, only allowing exceptions for medical necessity to save the mother’s life. This means an ​11 year-old rape victim from Massillon​ will likely have to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

Heartbeat bills do not ban abortion; they ban legal abortion. I think of a sign I saw during the 2017 Women’s March: a metal coat hanger with the words “WE WON’T GO BACK” scrawled below. The passage of this recent law achingly raises questions of whether or not we will go back.

Women who now find themselves pregnant could have their lives forever changed. Even if they choose to surrender the baby after birth, the cost of a pregnancy is astronomical and healthcare is far from a certainty in this country. If the pregnancy was caused by rape, the potential for trauma only escalates. Women will have few places to turn, with the most vulnerable unable to seek safe healthcare and the potential high for maternal deaths as part of botched abortions.

The ACLU and other organizations are already moving to challenge the ban in court. I can’t shake the looming feeling that these challenges will only play into the hands of those anti-abortion supporters, and that we may be entering the most important fight of our generation in this fight for a woman’s right to choose.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: ‘Red flag’ is far cry from where Ohio gun law should be

Joanne Strasser

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Last weekend, a man entered a synagogue in Poway, California armed with a rifle. The Washington Post reports that prior to him entering the place of worship, the accused shooter wrote a 7-page letter about his hatred for Jewish people. He believed killing them would "glorify God." Below is an op-ed from one Columbus mother who believes Ohio should be taking a stronger stance against guns following of the Poway tragedy.

Even in light of this past weekend’s synagogue shooting, DeWine is still unwilling to change Ohio’s gun laws. He is, however, advocating for Ohio to pass a red flag law, which would allow law enforcement to seize guns from individuals deemed a societal risk.

This isn’t the first time the red flag law was floated in the Ohio Legislature.  In the wake of last year’s Parkland High School shooting in Florida, former Gov. Kasich backed the proposed law, which ultimately failed to gain support.

Opposition to the legislation stems from Republican lawmakers’ belief that it infringes on the constitution rights to bear arms and proper due process of law. However, 14 other states have already implemented the red flag law.

Moms Demand Action, a national gun control organization, notes that 42% of attackers exhibit warning signs before shootings occur. And although this legislation would only be a small step in the right direction, it could help save lives.

But ultimately, statistics don’t matter to politicians, who are dependent on dollars from the gun lobby.  And until our elected officials decide that Ohioans‘ safety comes first, any measure, regardless of how small and sensible, will fail. 

Ohio Republicans need to take a long hard look at their agenda and ask themselves if it truly serves our needs. Which is more important: our children feeling safe at school or campaign contributions? 

The red flag law is a common-sense measure, and while it’s a far cry from where Ohio gun restriction needs to be, it’s certainly a start.

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