Why Do People Drive Like Idiots?   6 comments

This is Brad.

For the last few years I’ve owned my own business operated out of our house, which meant I keep my own hours. While Lela is driving to work in the morning, I’m drinking coffee at my leisure and catching up on the news online. I generally schedule appointments later in the morning and often, since my company repairs houses, my customers prefer late afternoon and early evening. Unlike the refrigerator repairman, I don’t schedule you for sometime today, expect you to hang out at home all day, and then not show up. I like repeat customers. Therefore, I’ve mostly missed rush hour traffic for about three years.

Image result for image of the 12 Steps applied to distracted drivingExcept that Lela’s car is currently broken and until I either acquire the skills to fix it (doable, but it was the flywheel not the starter and flywheels look complicated) or save the money to take it to a mechanic (more realistic for a flywheel), I’m driving her to work in the mornings. We don’t do debt anymore and we try not to dip into the emergency fund for non-emergencies (which this really isn’t), but I’m tempted just so I don’t have to be on the road with all the idiots.

Yes, idiots! There’s the guy talking on his cell phone and drinking coffee while weaving in and out of traffic going 60 in a 45 mph zone. There’s the woman barreling through the school zone at 40 (school zone speed limit is 20 with 30 being the limit at either end.) And this private school’s administrative offices are on the other side of the streets, so the chance of a kid popping out at you … fairly high. I don’t know … is there some new prestige I’m unaware of in having a manslaughter conviction on your record?

There’s the dozens of people who rush to red lights! Why? You know they’re red, right? I mean, you could slow down like I do and just roll through them when they turn green. Do you think you get extra points for waiting in line puking exhaust into the air?

Or maybe they just want a moment to all look obsessively at their phones so that when the light does turn green, I have to wait for them to come back to reality and start moving again, usually slowly enough so that most of the people behind them can’t make it through the light. Did you even notice the mama moose and calf who walked right in front of us this morning? You might want to keep those crosswalks clear.

Then there’s the people who are so busy looking at their phones while they are actually driving that they are surprised by the red light, slam on their brakes and turn sideways as they are sliding up on our trunk. Did I mention that I try to roll up on red lights so they turn green while I’m still in motion? This morning I managed to stay ahead of a potential accident, but really, folks … are you so addicted to a screened device that you can’t set it aside while you’re driving? If that be the case, I think we can modify the 12-Step programs for you. You clearly have become powerless over your screened device.

If I were dictator for a day (what am I saying, a day wouldn’t be enough!) I would force everyone to do it my way. Lela is a great admirer of anarchy and she sees a certain beauty in how traffic functions without rulers because everybody (sort of) follows the rules. I’m not buying it. I would gladly become the higher power that brings distracted drivers back to sanity. There needs to be a traffic dictator … someone to take the phones out of everyone’s hands and force them to look around them, someone to teach everyone to take their lead foot off the gas pedal as they scream up to a red light. Someone to say “Hey, look at the moose! Yes, the moose that is right in front of you. You know, the several thousand pounds of muscle and bone that could come crashing through your windshield and decapitate you if you hit it? Hello! Are you paying attention?” Trust your higher power. This is for your own good and the good of society.

Image result for image of cop car with computer in middleYeah, me as anyone’s higher power is a little … laughable … ludicrous … frightening? The fact is, I only feel like I want to be the traffic dictator for a little while every morning after I interact with idiots. I don’t see beautiful functional anarchy in traffic. It makes me skeptical that anarchy could work at all in society. I like my own freedom. I feel I use it well and treat others with respect, but clearly I made that woman who roared around us this morning angry because I didn’t run over the old Eskimo fella who was crossing against the light. I’m pretty sure SHE wanted to force both of us to do things HER way.

And, hey, people at the 4-way stop! I know this is an anachronistic practice – stop signs — but honestly, the guy on the left gets to go first in Alaska, which was why I was gesturing for you to go. Really, I wasn’t trying to trick you so I could rev up my engine and smash into you while you were in the intersection. I just wanted you to go so the other idiot could go so that I could go. See, it really could have worked that way … if you’d trusted me.

And yet, Lela would point out that, despite the fact that there are so many idiots on the road, we pretty much all manage to get to work basically on time without dents in our vehicles because the vast majority of drivers more or less follow the rules … without any active rulers. Would we do better if there were actually traffic dictators?

I doubt it. I was going the speed limit on my way home, enjoying the lack of traffic now that most of the workers are toiling in the hive, and a cop passed me in the left lane. He didn’t seem to be going anywhere crime-related, but I noticed he had a screened instrument mounted to the dash to his right. He sailed right through that red-almost-turning-green light that I rolled through (as it turned green) and then slammed on his brakes to not go through the next yellow-turning-red light.Distracted driving much?

So if the rulers violate the rules, how can they claim to have the ruled’s best interests at heart?

Just some morning commute thoughts for the day.

6 responses to “Why Do People Drive Like Idiots?

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  1. So very true – and I sympathise with you! Here in the UK, there is a regulation against using mobile phones while driving. Enforcement is the problem. There’s a campaign in the press pointing out the number of accidents caused through using mobile phones. Much time and energy is spent. And yet still there are problems.


    • Hi, Jane, this is Lela. We have those laws too, but it actually made the situation worse because now people have their phones in their laps rather than holding them on top of the steering wheel where at least they can see the road. And, since the cops now have their own screened instruments (essentially a tablet mounted to their dash), enforcement really isn’t working.

      I work for the Transportation Department and the statistics are shattering. I don’t think the laws against using your phone or a screened instrument work. According to USDOT, people haven’t stopped using their phones while driving; they just put them down in their laps so the cops can’t see them, which is worse than before.

      Of course, Brad’s real point in the post was that we don’t need rulers. We all use a form of anarchy (rules without rulers — because it’s rare to see a cop during rush hour) every day and it works just fine despite the idiots who don’t follow the rules.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It doeant work here either, Lela – they keep on banging their heads against the brick wall!


      • It’s a paradox. The more laws we make, the more crime we have and the less people are willing to follow the simple rules. There have been a couple of neat experiments done … removing traffic control. No signs, no signals, just let people work it out. In limited circumstances, after an initial period of confusion, traffic started flowing better than it had when there were signs and signals. http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/controlled-chaos-european-cities-do-away-with-traffic-signs-a-448747.html

        I liked the idea that by stripping away the rules, they opened a door to drivers being considerate to one another again. The same would likely hold with society in general. Instead of making a law that demands people do it a certain way, neighbors ought to talk to one another and cooperate. We’re led to believe it would be chaos, but removing traffic control didn’t lead to chaos, so ….


      • Reminds me of the traffic rules at roundabouts in Zimbabwe: you go forward in the same order you arrived at the roundabout. When I first experienced it while visiting my daughter, I was horrified. Surely there were some horrific accidents? But no, I was told, it works a treat. And it did. I am witness. Everyone stops, works out who was there before them, and then go forward when their turn comes. No problem


      • That’s similar to a 4-way stop in the States. Roundabouts here, those entering the roundabout must yield to those already in the roundabout. When that was first proposed, people freaked out. They expected all sorts of accidents, chaos, traffic backups. But it works. Occasionally, you get an old-school driver who learned roundabouts back in Massachusetts in the 70s and they believe those in the roundabouts are supposed to yield to those entering. Then you have an accident and the old-school driver gets cited and learns a lesson. But mostly, traffic flows and we all do that civility thing … signalling to one another, letting folks in. It saves gas too because we’re not sitting at stop signs and then trying to get going again on ice. But some people still complain that we need traffic lights and signs.

        Liked by 1 person

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