A Lesson in Traffic Patterns

11/15/2012 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments

Not quite the most geeky topic ever, but it involves patterns, and it fascinates and infuriates me on a daily basis since I have a 100 mile round trip daily, much of which is spent in start stop traffic.

There are 3 things I've come to learn about traffic from my approximately 250 hours on the road since I started this commute.  Well, I've learned more than that, but there's 3 things specifically that really grind my gears (see what I did there?).  The following 3 things are mostly the conversations I have by myself in the car that I pretend I'm having with other drivers.  I'm not really one for yelling and road rage, I mostly use my logical deductions to reduce drivers that irritate me to infantile imbeciles.  It's about as productive as yelling at them.  By that I mean other drivers don't really care about what you think of them and if they did, they probably wouldn't have cut you off or given you the bird (do we still call it that?  Is that one of those 90s things?  I'm not sure I've heard that term used since Top Gun).


First: Speeding. How much time do you think you are saving?  I've done my fair share of speeding.  I've had my license suspended for too many speeding tickets.  I get it, but have you done the math?  Most times speeding only makes up for a minute of two provided you aren't stopped, but you know what happens most of the time?  Someone comes flying by me, middle finger out the window, pissed off because I'm driving so slow.  In the right lane (myself wondering why they are driving so fast in the right lane, but I'll talk about that later).  I continue driving somewhere in the general vicinity of the limit speed and come to a stop behind the person that just passed me when we reach traffic or a stop light.  I hope they're glad they got there first....

We're all going the same direction.  We'll probably all stop in the same place.  It's ok, just let it happen.

Second: Tailgating.  This is the most frustrating part about traffic to me.  It's totally unnecessary.  So, you have a bajillion cars on the road, right?  One car isn't going fast enough for the car behind it, so the second car is riding the ass of the first.  The second car is also being tailgated because that car is also not content with the rate of traffic (determined by the lead car).  Another bajillion cars follow in a similar fashion, some closer than others.  So, the second car accelerates right up behind the first car and has to tap the brakes to not rear end him.  The car behind him has to do the same, but there is a slight delay, because the reaction time extends as it ripples back through traffic, so each car in the line has to brake slightly more to compensate for the fact that everyone was trying to drive faster than the person in front of them.  The amount of brakage needed now causes even the slow drivers to have to brake and eventually, someone in the back has to come to a complete stop.  Bingo, start stop traffic until all the cars are off the road.

If you are not using cruise control or set your cruise control faster than the car in front of you, kittens die.  Just imagine a world where being a car length ahead wasn't your top priority, because, you know, you're all moving in the SAME FREAKING DIRECTION.  A car in front of you is not a roadblock.  They're moving too.  In start stop traffic, if you are following me and I have my cruise set at 15mph, don't honk and flash your lights because there are 5 car lengths between me and the next car.  As soon as he stops, we will catch up.  I'm doing my part to regulate traffic properly.  If you are really as selfish as you are acting, it would probably actually be in your best interest to follow behind me at the same speed....

Third: Lane use.  It seems like most drivers don't have a clue where they belong on the road.  It's very simple.  Fastest cars in the far left lane, and each lane to the right is incrementally slower until you get the the far right lane, which should be right at the speed limit.  Here's the problem.  People don't do this.  So what happens?  Well, someone in the left lane isn't going fast enough for someone else, so they get in the right lane, only to come up behind someone else who is also going to slow (see a pattern here?), but now the speedster can't get back to the fast lane because they have come up to a semi who is blocking them on the left and the slowpoke is blocking them in the front, so they have to brake and then... [see section 2].

I personally became that guy in the far right lane going 55 mph, because ever since I got my Jetta TDI and have gotten a fuel economy boost from the diesel engine, I'm ok taking 5 minutes longer to get to work to get 50 mpg.  That's right Audi that cut me off while weaving through traffic.  It saves no more than 5 minutes.  You drive an Audi and think it's ok to cut off every other driver on the road.  You're clearly important enough for nobody to care if you are 5 minutes late.

The point is, traffic, especially start stop traffic, is largely totally avoidable and triggered and maintained because of unnecessary, selfish, counter productive actions of other drivers.

Get in your lane, keep a consistent speed, and don't drive faster than the person in front of you (if they are also following these rules, then they shouldn't be driving too slow for your tastes).

So, that's my fart into the wind for the day.

0 disqus:

Sound off