Monday, March 3, 2008

Road Rant

This piece was written about Seattle highways - home to some of the worst drivers in America. If you don't live and drive here, please indulge me. You may still recognize some of these folks from your neighborhood.

© 2008 by LeeZard

I don’t drive like everyone else around here. Even though I’ve lived in the Seattle area for 34 years, I still retain some of my old New York City cabbie habits. It’s not that I drive aggressively. I prefer to call my driving style “assertively defensive.”

I try to anticipate what everyone around me will do. I constantly check my side and rearview mirrors. I watch the front wheels on other vehicles; they will tell you what’s going to happen a split second ahead of time. The front wheels move or turn before the rest of the vehicle. As such, I try to keep my vehicle in a constant envelope of safety so I can navigate around and through whatever – or whoever – tries to keep me from my appointed rounds.

Aggressive drivers act out of anger. (Which reminds me -- Note to guy in the BMW 745 who used his car as a $70,000 weapon to try and force me off the freeway because he thought I cut him off: “What the #$%^&* were you thinking?”) When I’m on the freeway for long drives I set my cruise seven miles over the speed limit which allows me to toss a friendly wave at the State Troopers with the radar guns. I don’t creep up into someone’s trunk in the left lane if they are slower than moi. I give them a gentle hint by rolling up to a few car lengths behind them and then dropping back. In fact, tailgaters drive me crazy.

In my younger, angrier days I slammed on my brakes to jolt a tailgater off my tail. Today, I ease off the accelerator and slow down until the offender gets the hint. As they go by I toss them a friendly wave as well.

Then there’s the politically polite Seattleite. To my mind, there is a distinct difference between “polite” and “meek.” On the road, “meek,” can spell disaster. My favorites are “The Stoppers.” They’re on the freeway, doing the speed limit. As traffic starts to thicken, they want to move to the next lane on the right. Instead of slowing to stay with the traffic flow, signaling their intention and waiting for someone to let them in, they come to a dead stop. WHY!!??

Next time you come out of the Mt. Baker Tunnel on Westbound I-90 during the morning rush, I want you to count how many cars pull the mid-freeway stop. Please don’t run into any of them.

The other “Stoppers” do so at the top of a freeway cloverleaf, even when there’s a collector-distributor lane at the top with NO STOP SIGN. There’s a reason for no stop sign - to keep traffic moving. Sometimes there’s a “yield” sign, which to Seattle drivers spells STOP.

Here are some other rants – you know who you are:
• The drivers who make right turns into the left lane (or left turns into the right lane) without even looking;
• The I-don’t-have-to-signal-because-it’s-none-of-your-business-what-I-do drivers;
• The truckers who use their rigs to intimidate (it doesn’t work on some of us).

I know what you’re saying, “Leezard, get off your sanctimonious soap-box.” But, with our traffic problems being what they are, if more people drove a little more assertively defensive things might move a little more smoothly.