There was a a ‘program’ that went on during the 4th. of July week with much fanfare, to clear up ‘problems’ on US RT. 30 in the tri-state area. Supposedly it was to punish ‘aggressive driving’ and to eliminate it once and for all. That was the stated goal. If it reminds you or any of the other ‘wars-on’ – cancer, drugs, terrorism, even fat – you may have noticed that these wars are all on the symptoms, and not looking for the causes!
It bears a striking resemblance to the equally misguided attempt to ‘save fuel’ in the 70’s by lowering the speed limit to 55 nationwide, for everybody. There is a ‘stick’ but no carrot. Everyone suffers or else… What if there was a better way to handle both ‘problems’? Let’s look at possible cures; a solution that seems to escape bureaucratic reasoning.
If we were to try that same ‘save gas’ shtick today, what if it went like this? IF you have a gas guzzler, or large truck, your top speed is 55. If you have a mid sized car, you can go 65-70. If you have an economy car, go 80, and if you have a 45mpg + car, a smart car, or a Tesla, go as fast as you feel comfortable with. That last part might be unsettling to a few, but it puts the limits on the driver instead of giving the authority to someone who is not driving in the real world at the moment. It also rewards those who are saving fuel. “Smart Cars” and FIAT 500’s cannot be accused of drag racing, after all.
By the same token, should the bureaucracy ever decide to enforce existing laws on the side of reason, rather than come down on the symptoms of an out-of-balance system, we may find the ‘cure’, CIVILITY and courtesy.
The concept that small ‘offenses’ add up, (RE: Guliani – ‘Quality of Life’, NYC) then take the same concept (that seems to have worked with other crimes) back to the original ‘rules of the road’. The goal is to restore sanity and courtesy.
What all that means is this: Drive on the RIGHT, Pass on the Left. Let’s start with that very basic principle of driving courtesy that seems to have been lost over the years.
To reduce the problem to simplicity; most people are not aware of their surroundings as they drive. We need to spell it out for them, so everyone understands the few concepts that would make driving more pleasant, everywhere. Granted, the western States seem more courteous, IE: Californians willingly let motorcyclists pass on mountain roads, but that doesn’t mean that Easterners couldn’t be cajoled into following suit.
Rule #1 If EVERYONE is passing you on the right, and giving you ‘the look’, you are in the wrong lane; move over to the right, until people are passing you on the left.
Rule #2 If you are in the left lane and just pacing the car to your right, quietly drop in behind them. You weren’t passing them anyway; give the guy behind you a chance to open the bottleneck you created.
Rule #3 If the people behind you are flashing their high beams at you, MOVE OVER!
Rule #4 If you don’t have a clue where you are, nor where you are going, you belong in the extreme right hand lane. If you are anticipating a left turn 10 miles up the road, pull over to the right until then.
Now, how hard is that?
Advisory Rule #1 If you are on a 2 lane road and you look in your mirrors and see a mile or two of cars following you and no one in front of you; do everyone a favor, take a break, pull over and get something, anywhere, as soon as you can.
Advisory rule #2 If you are on a two lane road, and you look to your right, and pedestrians are going faster than you are, let your passenger drive.
The so-called ‘Aggressive Drivers’ are merely reacting to “The Pod Principle”, lack of maneuvering room, and lack of visibility due to huge vehicles like SUVs & cargo vans monopolizing the passing lane. “Road Rage” comes from following moving roadblocks that do not comply with the rules, nor common courtesy, and ignore signals from other drivers who are on their bumpers (tailgating) and flashing their lights, asking them to please move over. The ones that don’t respond to the signal for courtesy are the true causes of Aggressive Rages.
If you spend a lot of time on roadways, and are observant, you may have noticed certain things;
#1 Vehicles travel in Pods, like whales.
#2 At the head of these pods are two lumbering vehicles, seemingly attached by the quarter panels, pacing side by side, and never getting ahead of each other.
#3 Behind them are many frantic vehicles desperately trying to work their way to the front of the pack, and past the blockage. Once freed, there is a large space of ‘open water’ before the next pod. This is a driver’s “moment of Zen’.
#4 Some drivers feel that the left hand lane belongs to them, (regardless of speed) to drive on whenever they see fit. There are laws on the books about using the left lanes only for passing; however they are rarely, if ever enforced.
Misnomer: Not ‘Aggressive’ drivers, frustrated drivers!
These are not aggressive drivers, so much as they are knowledgeable drivers, in smaller cars, who cannot see; over, under, around nor through the lumbering behemoths that surround them. They are merely looking for the road ahead, and a glimpse of a potential path to freedom. These are FRUSTRATED drivers trying to get past the clueless ones without any sense of common courtesy.
Now if the police REALLY want to help out the driving world, they will enforce RULES 1-3. They could enlarge our driving quality by making sure people used their turn signals, and were in the proper lane before they began their turn. If they went on to enforce the advisory rules (written warnings?), soon there might not be any ‘aggressive drivers’ left, and traffic can flow smoothly, and everyone will be friendlier, hereafter. Remove the causes, not the symptoms. Motorists everywhere will thank them profusely for making their journey stress free.