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Chip Hill


I suppose few things can get me more exasperated than traffic, or more properly, the people in vehicles that create the traffic.  I'm an orderly person, somewhat anal about things I guess, and rules (and people obeying those rules) that govern traffic seem a natural thing to me.  Can we agree that traffic is a system, i.e., an infrastructure of roadways and controls, and the vehicles that move along the roadways?  And the pieces of that system moving in orderly and somewhat predictable fashion make life so much easier and safer for all the other pieces in that system (me and you)?

Within that system, drivers are governed by traffic laws, informal rules of the road, and common courtesies, all of which make the system run smoother.  By ignoring any of the three when the mood strikes, drivers may reach their destination faster (repeat, may), but usually at the expense of inconveniencing or even endangering other drivers, and lessening the efficiency of the overall system.  Some systems do operate best based on competition between its elements, but traffic is not one of them.  A couple of observations:

Turn signals.  Brilliant invention, right up there with the wheel.  By signaling a lane change or turn before you take that action, other drivers are alerted and can respond accordingly.  Can we agree on the positive benefits of that?  So, if the signal is not before the action, don't bother!  Oh, and signaling a lane change does not clear an adjacent space for your car through some unknown law of physics, i.e., you don't automatically own that space (although courteous drivers will hopefully cede that space), and you must still execute a safe merge. If only we could see the day when proper use of the turn signal becomes a habit, like buckling your seatbelt. 

Merging onto a highway is a cooperative exercise between the merger and those already on the highway.  The merger looks for an opening and accelerates (or slows down) to the appropriate speed, and those on the highway move over or adjust their speed to create an opening. Simple, right? But either side not cooperating spoils the merge.  And can we grasp the physics that an object doing, say, 50 mph merging into a stream of objects doing 75 mph is incompatible?  Especially if the slow-moving object has stacked up several merging objects behind it?

Some terms I have coined about drivers:

TSNP - Thou Shalt Not Pass. You are driving faster and overtaking another driver, but when you pull over to the passing lane, they treat it as a personal insult and speed up… again, and again.

LLH - Left Lane Hugger.  If two lanes are available going in the same direction, they pull into the left lane and camp out.  There are two varieties: those that try to drive faster than anyone approaching from the rear to “justify” being in that lane, or those who are oblivious to speed or any other traffic factor, requiring people to pass them on the right. There are laws against LLH in many States but they are rarely enforced.

TMI - Too Many Idiots, or BDDB - Bad Drivers Driving Badly.  Means the same thing.  Used as an adjective, i.e., TMI conditions… conditions where there is a high concentration of drivers doing stupid things.

LC - Light Creeper.  Can someone explain why people will stop a car length or two behind a car at a stop light, and then pull forward or slowly inch forward in increments until they are at a normal stopping distance? As it is pretty common, there must be something obvious I am missing.

GLW - Green Light Wakeup. The lead car is busy with something other than driving and doesn't notice the light turning green. When recognition dawns, they lay rubber, accelerating through the intersection as if to convince themselves (and you) that they really didn't slow down anyone behind them by sleeping at the light.

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