Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Douchebaggery Abounds: A Traffic Rant

With the interstate bridge out, the past three weeks of driving around Mount Vernon and Burlington have been nothing short of frustrating.  There are giant trucks and a whole lotta cars using downtown thoroughfares and residential streets in place of I-5.  Of course, there are also plenty of people who use these same streets to get to the grocery store, pick up kids from school, drive to work, etc.  Imagine, if you would, that 71,000 extra people, each of them with a car or a semi truck, moved into your town and started driving around on the small streets.  Traffic moves very slowly, stoplights are always backed up (especially an oft-used left turn lane that can’t accommodate more than two semi trucks per light), and frankly, people start acting really strangely.


I’d say that driving behavior now falls largely into two categories: those who are more courteous and cautious, allowing people into traffic, paying attention to pedestrians in crosswalks, waving cars in front of them to turn when they are stopped, maintaining a decent following distance, and following the normal rules of the road (you know, like you’re supposed to do); and those who have gone batshit crazy because the detour routes and extra traffic have given them an aneurism in the part of the brain that controls common sense.  These people follow too closely to the car in front of them, speed through school zones, assume that if they can see the light is yellow even if they’re three cars back from the intersection, they can totally still make the light (they can’t), cut in, cut people off, don’t stop for pedestrians, block intersections, and generally act like total asshole drivers.


Some of the bad-crazy stuff was expected, by me at least.  We’re all in a hurry, we’re all frustrated with the extra traffic, it’s starting to get warm so cars get hot, we’re late, kids are cranky.  But some of the bad-crazy stuff makes me really mad.  A school zone, for Christ’s sake?  You don’t tailgate someone like they’re going so slowly that you’ll be late for your grandma’s last rites in a school zone.  That’s just wrong.  Plus, I bet your grandma isn’t even dying right now, you just think you’re more important than the safety of all those kids on the sidewalk over there.  And gunning it through a yellow light?  In what world is that okay?  Just stop.  At most, you’ll wait five minutes for the light to change if you’re at a super-heavy traffic intersection where the light timers have been changed to accommodate bridge traffic.  Otherwise, two minutes.  You can wait two minutes.  And blocking an intersection?  Just.  Just don’t. 


I worry a bit that some of this terrible driving behavior will stick around even after the temporary bridge span is opened next week and the major traffic is (theoretically) kept on the interstate.  With any luck, police will hand out tickets left and right to those people who persist in acting like complete jerks, but I’m not counting on it.  Since when are there any real consequences for being a douchebag?

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