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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In what kind of crazy country is this even in dispute?
Posted by Jill | 5:33 AM
Every day I drive two New Jersey highways to get to work. Every day I'm reminded of the old saying that you're more likely to get wiped out on the highway than to be in a plane crash. I don't know why people drive the way they do here. I know they're in a hurry...everyone's in a hurry. But if you know you're going to get off exit 159 for Route 80, shouldn't you start going into the right-hand line at, say, milepost 160, instead of going 85 in the left lane, then cutting across four lanes of traffic at the last minute? Is it really necessary to tailgate me in the right hand lane when I'm going 70 in a 55mph zone? Do you really have to weave your SUV in and out, causing EVERYONE to have to back off just to make room for you? At the Route 3 merge, would it KILL you to get an alternate feed going? When you see a car trying to merge onto the highway, is it really that difficult to either speed up or back off, so that car doesn't have to come to a dead stop and then try to speed up to 65mpg in just a few feet? If an Exit Only lane is backed up, can't you just wait like everyone else instead of staying in the right-hand lane until the exit itself, then stop dead in traffic to try to cut in?

And that's just normal driving. It's a miracle that there aren't more accidents. Last year I was sideswiped on the highway by a car that wasn't even in sight yet when I merged into the lane; that's how fast the other driver was going. Was he talking on a cell phone? Texting? I have no idea.

Texting? I can't even find the pbone number marked "Home" on my Droid when I'm driving. And yet texting-while-driving is something people do every day.

Yesterday at a distracted driving conference, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suggested that cell phones come with warnings like cigarettes. Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous? It isn't that I'm some sort of Libertarian, it's that the cell phone isn't the device that inflicts the damage, IT'S THE DAMN TWO TONS OF METAL AND GASOLINE YOU'RE DRIVING!! But the larger issue is this: Why is this even something that needs to be discussed? Why aren't people smart enough, or concerned enough about their own safety, to realize that taking your eyes off the road to send a text message is taking your life and that of others into your hands?

Here we live in a country where people are going apeshit over a community center with a prayer room, who freak out every time a woman in a hijab passes by, who put their kids in body armor before they can go out on a bicycle, who worry about child kidnappers lurking in their neighborhood, who vote for the worst kind of nutjobs just because they run on an unattainable promise of "safety", and here they are texting and watching DVDs and yakking on a hand-held cell phone while driving on a flooded road during a thunderstorm.

But it gets worse. Did you know that there was, until this conference, a loophole in a ban on texting while driving by truckers, that didn't include interstate drivers of propane tanker trucks and trucks carrying hazardous materials? You mean you DON'T want to see that Suburban Propane tanker truck driver next to you sexting with his girlfriend on I-95 in Virginia?

How much of an idiot do you have to be to realize that when you're driving, not looking at the road is a mind-bogglingly stupid thing to do?

Don't answer that. We live in a country full of 'em.


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Anonymous Warren said...
Jill - I agree 100 percent! But:

"Is it really necessary to tailgate "me" in the right hand lane when I'm going 70 in a 55mph zone?"

Who, exactly, was doing 70 in a 55 zone? In the right hand lane? :o)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Damn, and I thought that kind of idiot driving only took place in California....

Blogger Jill said...
Warren: I guess you don't drive in New Jersey, where speed limits are regarded as just a suggestion. Yes, there are times on NJ highways when you will be tailgated....in the slow lane....even if you are going 15mph over the speed limit (something I don't like to do unless I am within inches of being bumped from behind). And this isn't Montana, either. This is in rush-hour traffic.