Recently, I have become aware of an increase in concern regarding the inexorable move towards automation. Surprisingly more of this kind of talk seems to be centered on the potential perils of self driving automobiles as opposed to job displacement via robotics. I understand the odd, eerie feeling that the thought of not seeing a human being at the steering wheel would generate, but I have to be honest: at this point I can’t imagine my day to day life on the road getting demonstrably worse. Full disclnosure: I have a shitty commute. My round trip is over 110 miles daily, I cross a bridge and depending on which route I take I can end up using four different major roads with two separate tolls. I understand fully that I am not alone in this purgatorial grind, so I thought I would take the liberty of helping out my fellow sufferers by listing a few ideas for some of our less adept company on the highway to think about as we all try and get to and from work every day with out murdering each other. I don’t make a living doing anything traffic related so odds are that this is going to be something less than a comprehensive list. Still, I think I can probably hit on some of the key issues here. Maybe that can help. Maybe I can avoid a lengthy prison term.
GETTING ON THE HIGHWAY
Seems like a good place to start. This one is pretty basic. If you’re entering into a flow of vehicles moving at highway speed everyone else involved in the interaction is going to expect you accelerate whatever conveyance it is that you’re piloting at the moment. Obviously larger automobiles are slower to pick up speed and we all know this and adjust accordingly. If you’re behind the wheel of a tractor trailer pushing through those gears can take a minute. If you’re in a more standard sedan let me help you out. Here in America the gas pedal is the one on the right. Put your foot on it and press. Asshole. If you think there’s something about getting on a major roadway at twenty miles an hour under the posted speed limit that’s going to enhance the safety of your fellow travelers, you are incorrect.
This next one can be a little more subtle. I know the authorities can be adamant about how fast it is that they think a vehicle ought to be moving, Or so it seems. If you pay attention to what’s happening around you as you drive you may notice that more often than not there are really two established speed limits. The first one is the posted limit. This is the number of miles per hour that you see listed on signs. It’s representative of the sort of irritating buttinskyism that elected/appointed officials like to think of as the business of government. If you drive at that speed for a little while you will notice that there is a second, faster rate of speed that many drivers are adhering to. That’s the consensus speed limit. Depending on the road, there can be anywhere from five to twenty-five miles per hour difference between the posted and consensus limits. That’s because there are two different interests being represented here. On one hand we have the benighted if well intended judgement of a group of mid-level functionaries who are desperately trying to validate their position and all that comes with it. On the other hand we have countless drones like myself, praying that we can arrive at the slow motion death we call work in a timely fashion. If you’re driving with group two but are inclined to see things more from a group one perspective that’s no big deal. Just stay the fuck out of the way. Which is my sonnet-like transition to our next segment.
This part gets a bit technical. First, and some say most important, just one lane at a time. Obvious really but you’d be amazed at how difficult a task this can be for some of us. If this skill has eluded you in the past make acquiring it a priority. Move incrementally. Start by keeping both eyes open and focused on the road. Before you know it you’ll be one of the gang. I don’t often endorse rigidly conformist behavior but let’s make this one of those times. If you’ve got that worked out the next step is learning which lane you really belong in. A lot of what immediately follows relates strongly to the preceding section. If you’re a stick to the rules kind of person you belong in the right lane. Period. No negotiation. No solipsistic horse shit explanation about how it makes you nervous. Absolutely no one outside of your most intimate circle of friends and family cares. They probably don’t care either. If you can’t bring yourself to exceed the posted limit regardless of what the rest of the world is doing you’re going to become a problem, if not outright danger as you venture into the middle, or God help us left lanes. Any one reading this who isn’t prone to the aforementioned behavior will have no problem recalling any number of incidents in which some putz doing forty in the left lane on fifty-five MPH road left a mile of skid marks behind them and blithely rolled on without a clue as to the carnage they just precipitated. Cut it out. Typically each lane has a generally understood preferred user. We’ve established the right. The middle is for most of us. The left is for any one who needs to get around everyone else. If you belong off to the right and wander elsewhere everyone around you is going to end up in the wrong lane in order to compensate. The cost of this cannot be overstated. Even on relatively uncongested roads the impact is real. I’m frequently in my car before six in the morning. Volume is reasonable. The average loss of time from even one jackass is already climbing. Stay where you belong. And if you do have to move use your indicator. Abrupt movements in your car are not an acceptable conversation starter.
If you’re still reading this by now then you know that little, if any of it applies to you. The truth is that most of us on the road on an every day basis aren’t too bad. If the kind of crap I’m talking about here was truly commonplace there would be no end to the ensuing misery. Hopefully you’ve noticed that I haven’t singled out any particular group for ridicule. It’s cheap, facile and I don’t really see things that way. Except ride share drivers. I can say without a whit of hyperbole most of my misery while driving is caused by someone with commercial plates who’s clearly driving their personal vehicle. What the fuck is it with you people? It is no exaggeration to say that not less than 85 % of the above mentioned stupidity that I contend with comes courtesy of the Uber/Lyft crowd. My God, it’s like you haven’t driven in years and decided to jump at an opportunity to side hustle your way to some extra dough without thinking about whether or not you were really up to the task. Oh wait I get it. Well, far be it from me to interfere with a persons livelihood. Maybe you could just practice a little before you casually add thirty minutes of road time to our days.