THE COMMUTER TRAFFIC
This page is dedicated to the concept that traffic -- even rush-hour
traffic -- could always flow smoothly, efficiently, and safely simply if
there weren't so many damn IDIOTS on the road! With that in mind, here's
my meager attempt to educate the masses about the dynamics of traffic movement
and to try to get people to drive intelligently and responsibly. We must
refuse to be slaves to our lower brains, which may have been fine for knocking
gazelles on the head with rocks but which cause traffic jams when enough
of them are put behind internal-combustion engines at 5 pm every day!
1. First, if you're truly stupid, or senile, let somebody else drive.
Take public transportation, or carpool. If you refuse to do that, do all
of us a favor and just kill yourself!
* * *
2. For the love of God, please stop using your brake so damn much!
People have a tendency to go into auto-pilot when they drive, and if the
slightest thing out of the ordinary happens (a car parked on the shoulder,
an airplane, or a cop, even though they're driving at the speed limit),
they step on the brake. If the traffic is heavy, this causes a chain reaction,
and thanks to the laws of chaos, a traffic jam may be born from this simple
seed of stupidity.
3. Many times the accelerator is much more appropriate than the brake. A
perfect example of this is the simple merge. If two cars are jockeying for
position, chances are one of the drivers will get confused and hit the brake
to let the other ahead. Under the right conditions, this starts or propagates
a traffic jam. Instead, if one of the drivers took the initiative and accelerated,
the other wouldn't need to step on the brake. There would therefore be no
cause for the traffic behind to slow down, and the traffic would remain
4. DIE, IMPORTANT SCUM! I'm referring to people who feel they're entitled
to wait until the last minute to merge, ignoring all the "right lane
ends, merge left" signs as they zoom (usually in new, expensive cars)
past the honest people who merged, in good faith, when they were supposed
to. Of course, there's a large enough percentage of the population that's
either indifferent or blindly compassionate enough to step on the brake
and let the important scum merge easily at that last possible moment, therefore
perpetuating the nightmarish cycle. Would people tolerate this behavior
in a line for a movie theater? Then why do people tolerate it in traffic?
5. Summary executions for rubberneckers!
6. Okay, let's make this perfectly clear: The right lanes are the SLOW lanes,
and the left lanes are the FAST lanes. Why is this so difficult for many
people to grasp? Just as people come in varying degrees of intelligence,
so they prefer to drive at different speeds. (These traits aren't necessarily
linked.) So why can't slow drivers just leave the fast lanes for the fast
drivers? People seem to think that because there's a lane there, they're
entitled to drive in it. (No.) Furthermore, in bumper-to-bumper traffic,
people often crowd into the "fast" lane, apparently in the subconscious
belief that this will get them home faster. Watch this effect the next time
you're in a jam. The "slow" lanes are usually the faster ones,
as people abandon them to get into the "fast" lanes. I call this
the "slow lane advantage."
7. Then there's what I call the "induction effect" or "boundary
layer effect" (a term borrowed from aerodynamics). If there's a jam
in the rightmost lane, as people try to get off at a certain exit, this
invariably slows down the lanes successively to the left. There may be two
reasons for this: a) important scum trying to get into the rightmost lane
at the last minute, or b) stupidity. Even if nobody's ahead of them, people
tend to think that if traffic in an adjacent lane is slow, there must be
a reason to slow down. After all, why would their fellow protoplasm be driving
like that? Again, no. Keep up your speed, be very alert as to what's happening
in the lane to the right as well as what cars are in the lane to the left
(in case you need to swerve), and keep your thumb on the horn. Don't slow
down -- unless you're important scum, in which case, die.
8. Turn off your blinker, dumbshit!
9. Stop changing lanes so much. All this does is cause turbulence in the
traffic flow, slowing down the person whose "space cushion" you
commandeered. If the lane you're entering is going significantly faster,
changing lanes causes a serious hazard. Is it really worth it to get a couple
of car lengths ahead? Will your life really be that much more enriched?
If the traffic is stop-and-go, you just know that in a second the other
lane will be going faster again. So if traffic is heavy, don't change lanes
except when you're leaving or entering the highway, to enter a carpool lane,
or to avoid a stalled car.
10. Try to drive at as constant a speed as possible. This saves gas, is
more safe, and causes less wear and tear on the engine, transmission, and
brakes. If everyone did this, even traffic jams would be more pleasant.
After all, wouldn't you rather drive at a constant 10 mph than be stopped
half the time and be driving 20 mph half the time? Unfortunately, maintaining
a constant speed in bumper-to-bumper traffic requires you to keep an elastic
space cushion in front of you, and when other drivers see space, they see
an opportunity to change lanes and get ahead a few car lengths. (They suck.)
And when people see others getting ahead of them, it raises their stress
level, causing them to speed up and slow down and do other irrational things
(like -- ahem -- change lanes). They therefore cannot have a peaceful and
relaxing, if slow, commute home.
11. A pox on cell phones! How many times have you seen someone driving,
holding a cell phone, and reading or looking for something -- all at the
same time? Do you realize how dangerous that is? It leaves at least one
fewer hand available, which could become critical in an emergency situation.
I believe people should not be allowed to drive while holding a cell phone.
Auto cell phones have a hands-free operating mode (speakerphone) that's
perfectly suited for driving and talking. People, the cell-phone idea must
12. The next time you go out driving, watch what happens. You go into auto-pilot.
You stop thinking about driving and start to think about something completely
unrelated. We should actively strive to counteract this! Folks, driving
is serious business. You're hurtling down a strip of asphalt at 60 or 70
miles an hour, surrounded by metal and glass -- but it's easy to forget
how vulnerable you are. Have you ever witnessed a car accident and felt
shaken up afterward? That's because it's a reality check. You realize that
what happened to that person could just as easily happen to you. The next
day, though, you probably forget about it and go back into auto-pilot. Really
good, safe drivers, though, think only about driving when they're driving.
(Do you think race-car drivers make their shopping list when they're going
200 miles an hour?) Good drivers are constantly aware of what's around them
and what hazards might be present. Think about it: If the guy in front of
you slams on his brakes and you're too close, knowing for a fact that there's
nobody in the next lane would give you a very important option. Swerve out
of the way blindly of anything and you're likely to hit another car. Keep
awake, people! When you're driving, you're DRIVING -- not sitting on your
sofa at home. Ask yourself questions like, "Is moving over to the next
lane really the most productive, considerate thing to do in this situation?
Is there really a reason to step on the gas when there's a red light 100
yards ahead? What would it be like if everybody did what I'm about to do
when they're in this situation?" Treat driving seriously -- after all,
your life is on the line whenever you're behind the wheel.
I believe that if these measures were followed by each and every person
on the road, everyone would get home faster, and there would be fewer
accidents. People would get to spend more time with their families, heart
disease and other maladies would go down, the healthcare system would be
less burdened, and we'd be able to spend more money on education. And, yes
-- that includes driver education!
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