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Sunday, July 11, 2004

True Confessions:

OK. I admit it. I am a fast driver. One of my most pronounced character flaws is my impatience. My hatred of lethargic traffic flow is one of the worst examples. It’s amazing how frustration with traffic can make a normally mild-mannered man into a belligerent beast. Because of my “condition” (if obesity and stress disorders can be conditions, so can my predisposition to driving fast), I tend to perform a lot of traffic observation. What I have observed, I am chronicling here.

For example, many drivers simply have no awareness of anything going on around them except for what immediately precedes them. Be aware of these people, as they are prone to simply maneuver their vehicles into your lane without so much as a hint of their intentions. If you happen to be in their blind spot, that’s just too bad. It was your fault for not being in their “attention path”.

There are also regional differences in drivers. For example, in Alabama, I have noticed that the fast drivers tend to drive in the right hand lane, while the slowers ones migrate to the left. This is the antithesis of most states, where slow commuters embrace driving in the right hand lane. Some states even have signs suggesting such protocol. In Connecticut (my present base of operations), I have noticed something entirely different. Once someone gets into the passing lane, they are there to stay. I once drove behind the same car from Hartford to New Haven (around 30 miles); not once did the pilot of this slow-moving steel obstruction on wheels indicate that he/she/it would do the accepted thing and yield to the faster oncoming traffic.

This axiom, while well-known and accepted in most of the 48 contiguous states (I cannot speak for Hawaii and Alaska, as I have never visited them), is conveniently ignored in the Nutmeg state. Here, I have been forced to learn a new driving technique – weaving through traffic. I dislike greatly the idea of weaving betwixt cars, trucks, semis, and RVs. It’s not that I see it as dangerous. I just don’t like having to do it. However, my “condition” forces me to find an alternative to lazily coasting at 15 miles below the speed limit behind the local retiree who can’t decide whether he wants to visit the casino, or take a detour to the beach for some pinochle with his aging Ivy league pals. I simply cannot do it.

To assuage some of my angst, I have come up with some further suggestions, such as:

  • If an officer has already pulled someone over for speeding, the likelihood that he is going to drop everything and pursue you for going 66 in a 65 is zero to nil.
  • In case of an accident on the other side of the highway, do not deviate your attention from the task at hand (that being driving on THIS side of the road). It is highly unlikely that you know the people involved in the mishap, and if you do, there is NOTHING that can be done by slowing down to 40 and squinting endlessly at the collage of lights, skidmarks and debris in the opposite lane of traffic.
  • If you happen to be in the left hand lane, and you need to exit, and the exit is in the right hand lane, it would behoove you to be in that lane long before the exit actually starts.
  • The red isosceles triangle sign – it does not mean COME TO A COMPLETE STOP AND OBSTRUCT OTHERS BEHIND YOU. It means “slow down, find an opening, and take it”.

  • I am sure there are more of these, and perhaps I may add them at my whim.

    One final thought – 500,000 miles of driving across various U.S. highways has taught me this: Fast driving does not cause accidents. Irresponsible, unsafe driving does.


    .: posted by Dave 7:01 PM

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