Sorry America, Your License is Revoked – Three Reasons Why We’re Terrible Drivers
There are those of us trying to get where we want to go, and there are those just getting in the way.
One of the most exciting times in our lives is the day we walk out of our local Bureau of Motor Vehicles with a driver's license. Finally, after years of toiling in the backseat of the family sedan, minivan, or whatever, we have the freedom to come and go as we please, listen to whatever music we want, roll the windows up and down to our hearts content, or blast the air conditioning in the middle of December. (Nerd alert in 3...2...1...) But just like Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. Responsibility some of us apparently can't handle.
I don't get fired up about much. For the most part I'm a pretty laid back, go-with-the-flow kind of guy, but if there's one thing that riles me up it's when people display a complete lack of common sense. Unfortunately, there was a ton of it on my family's recent trip to Disney World in Orlando.
During the roughly 13 hour drive, there seemed to be three common things that led to my frustration. One of which was...
For reasons I hope to never grasp, the immediate reaction to drops of water hitting one's windshield is to slam on the breaks. As if it's the first time one has seen rain, and fears this mysterious water that has been falling from the sky since the beginning of time. The reasoning behind hitting the brakes is mind boggling to me. It's completely counter-intuitive to the general reaction to fear which of course is to get away from whatever is scaring the hell out of you as quickly as possible. Instead we slow down, rather quickly for some reason, with a total disregard for the fact there's another vehicle 30 feet behind us traveling at over 70 miles per hour. From there it's just a chain reaction of panicked drivers trying to avoid reporting an accident to their insurance company.
But a light sprinkle isn't the only thing that causes us to be erratic idiots behind the wheel. Oh no, we're also really good at....
Causing Traffic Jams for No Reason
During any road trip, you're bound to run into some sort of traffic jam. For our trip down to Orlando, it happened in the winding roads of Tennessee mountain country a little north of Chattanooga. We're cruising along just fine, then suddenly traffic starts to slow down before eventually coming to a complete stop. This particular jam added nearly an extra 45 minutes to the trip.
Now then, if there's an accident or construction causing the jam, then fine, at least there's a reason. But as far as I know, that wasn't the case here. As the flow of traffic began to return to a normal pace, I was curious to see what had held us up for that amount of time only to find nothing. No construction, no left over vehicle remnants to imply an accident had taken place. NOTHING! Which led me to believe that a few poor drivers simply decided the slight downhill slope of the road was too much to handle, or we're too busy enjoying the view (it was pretty for what it's worth), hit the breaks, and started a chain reaction that somehow compounded to holding everyone else up for a 10+ mile stretch.
In the grand scheme of things, 45 minutes isn't that long. However, when you have two kids in the backseat bursting at the seams with excitement over their first trip to the happiest place on Earth, asking questions about why traffic's not moving, and inevitably needing to go to the bathroom "right now!" when there's no telling when you'll see another exit in general, much less one with restroom facilities, those extra 45 minutes might as well be infinity times infinity.
As aggravating as the two above references are, there is one thing, more than anything, that is guaranteed to send me in to full-blown road rage. And that is...
Getting Passed in the Passing Lane
I couldn't find a good photo to illustrate my point, so I whipped out a pen, paper, and ruler and drew my own (the trees are courtesy of Photoshop).
Most major interstate highways feature three lanes. In my mind, the far right lane is for those looking to adhere closely to posted speed limit, the middle is for those willing to put the pedal down just a bit harder, and finally the far left lane is for those of us who are keeping a constant eye out for local law enforcement as we try our luck at traveling 15 - 20 miles per hour faster than what the state prefers because we just want to get where we're going.
It is the responsibility of each driver on the road to be aware of what lane they're in. If you're in the left lane and notice that a large number of vehicles are passing by your passenger side windows, and the car or truck behind you is so close you can't see their headlights — NEWS FLASH — YOU ARE IN THE WRONG FREAKING LANE! MOVE!
I know what you're thinking, you are abiding by the law and have just as much right to drive in that lane as the rest of us. You probably even slow down a bit to teach us law breakers a lesson. Well guess what, that's a cops job, not yours. And while we're clearly violating the posted limit, we're both in the wrong. The Indiana Department of Transportation pretty much came out and said that back in April on their Facebook page. So nyah (I'm childishly sticking my tongue out right now).
I'm not saying the way I'm driving is right, but I'm not saying it's wrong either. If you've made it this far in my rant (and thank you if you did), you have either come to one of two conclusions. 1) You believe I'm part of the problem, or 2) you totally with me and think every other driver on the road sucks. Honestly, either way is fine with me. My hope here is that you read these reasons and realized you are guilty of committing one or more of them, and will now make a concerted effort to not ruin a road trip across town or across the country for the rest of us.