Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Road Warrior

You know, I am astounded on a daily basis by the crap that goes on the highways and byways of this country. I am at a loss as to why people are not aware that a vehicle can be used as a deadly weapon, whether intentional or not. Don't even get me started on how inconsiderate people are, not just on the road, but in all aspects of daily life. What happened? When did being an asshole become the preferred SOP? Am I getting old?

There was a report the other day - I think it was on tv - about speeds & fatality crash rates, saying that since we raised the speed limits a few years back, the rates of fatal crashes have steadily declined. That may be true, but let me tell you, my instances of narrowly avoiding death have increased ten-fold. Now, part of this just might be because I live in such a congested area, becoming more so every day; perhaps if I was back in my hometown, it wouldn't be such an issue. Just as we are running out of water for all the new houses being built (app. 4000 lots within 3 miles of my house alone), we are running out of room on our roads. There's no way to keep up, I know; we have trailers for classrooms at our schools this coming year, even though they just added onto the schools year before last - already filled up. It's just crazy the way urban sprawl consumes things.

Another problem that I see very plainly is foreigners out there mixing it up with everyone else. Now, I don't want to stereotype, but stereotypes are based on a realistic sampling of people, whatever. I remember getting a driver's license as being slightly difficult, but there's no way you can tell me that some of these people out there now had the same tests I did - there's no way. Of course, I now live in a state where driver's ed is not required (how stupid is that?), so there's a foundation destroyed right there. And the huge foreign population that lives here, from all over the world, many areas of which do not have traffic laws and such as we are accustomed to. We have plenty of those who just don't understand how it works, can't read the signs (might've learned enough to pass the test, or had their translator give them the answer, but obviously didn't retain it, or know how to apply it). Jeez, we have enough problems with people born and raised here - how many times do you have problems at 4-way stops, or when the stop light is out? And then there are the people out there who are driving illegally - no license, no insurance, not supposed to be here, etc. In my area, we have a huge Hispanic population, and you can always tell the ones who aren't supposed to be driving - they are in the fast lane, doing exactly 2 miles below the posted speed limit, with 50 cars backed up behind them. Now, considering everyone here who is legal drives, at a minimum, 10 miles over the limit, this causes a lot of problems, especially during rush hour.

Yeah, I know, everyone thinks they are the best driver out there. And it is really bad to let driving upset you, let alone to react to it. But you know, when I get home most days - and not just from work, from anywhere - and thank god I got there in one piece, with my heart rate raised and sweat on my lip, it's just too much. I'm pretty sure it's nothing I'm doing; except for one speeding ticket, I have a clean driving record as long as I've been driving. Granted, I drive fast, but I do not feel that I am ever unsafe. I ensure I have plenty of room, in front and behind, if possible; I use my turn indicators religiously; my car is functioning and has all the necessary lights and such; and I follow basic road rules and common sense. I DON'T read, watch tv, eat, or that kind of stuff. I'd like to say I don't use my phone, which I didn't own until a year ago, but I have done it. But also know that if there is traffic or something going on, where I feel I cannot afford the distraction, I will not use it - I have been known to say "I have to go, so I don't get killed - click". (Of course, some people only call me when I'm known to be in my car, even though I've asked them not to, since the original reason for getting the damn cell phone was to call for help in the event of an accident. The road to hell is paved with good intentions; pretty ironic, huh?) I understand that for some, there is no other choice - get to work or not eat, but I really don't think this applies as often as people would like to think. There are emergencies, and then there are people who just don't want/care to try to do the right thing.

I'm not really sure what my point here is, other than I really wish people would take a minute to consider that they can easily kill or maim other people while in their vehicles. It can be totally unintentional, but again, some plainly don't care if they take out the person who is in their way. I really do not understand this race for everything that goes on every minute of every day. I wish people would stand back and take a minute to consider if it is worth it? Is getting to a job you hate really worth the possibility of killing people? Or even to a job you love? Is getting home so you can get your kids loaded up and to 3 different activities, with none of the proper equipment, really worth killing them, yourself, and/or others? Is being out there without a clear understanding of how to get from Point A to Point B in the safest way possible really worth causing problems for the multitudes? Is being rude and threatening, to spite someone you don't know, and will never see again, someone who just didn't have the forethought to realize you are the Most Important Person on Earth, really worth the time and energy? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, I truly feel sorry for you. I think poor driving might be the least of your worries.

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