Monday, September 19, 2005

Speed Racer

Since I moved to Washington from California I have been truly struck by the difference in attitudes of Washington drivers. While Californians are generally fast and rude, Washington drivers tend to be cautious and arrogant. This difference is really notable on the drive from Portland to Seattle. The drive is 180 miles long and 100 miles of that is 2 lanes each direction of 70 MPH. I like to drive with a the faster taffic that are moving between 75 and 80 in dry conditions. There are always a half a dozen assholes in the "fastlane" doing 69-71 MPH. When you flash these people the never budge, and then if you pass them on the right they either speed up (the sheep phenomenon), or act as though you have no right to pass them and block you in. I can't count the number of times I have been in a line of cars 15 long all in the left lane just to crest a hill and look down to see two morons side by side doing 68 mph.

Where do these people come from? I was taught that if you aren't passing, then you don't belong in the left lane. Do people elsewhere learn something different? Where do people get this idea that the speed that they are going is fast enough, and that you have no right to go any faster? Why would you get mad if somebody wants you to move so that they can pass you? To me I am always a little embarrassed to find i am in the way and I make every effort to get out of the way as soon as possible. Why do people get mad and flip you off and strive to block you in when all you want to do is pass them?

To me the idea of parking in the fast lane and blocking others reeks of rudeness and arrogance and these people need to get over themselves. I suspect a lot of this is that people in general lack awareness of those around them and simply need to start paying better attention. To that end I have assembled some bullets here on my personal driving ethics. Feel free to comment on them:

  • If the speed limit is 70 I can easily do 78 and not get a ticket. If the cops don't really mind that I am going this fast then why should you?
  • If you like the speed I am going and want to team up behind me this is great, but please don't tailgate or I will assume that you want to pass me.
  • If you went 50 up the hill and got in my way, don't expect me to get out of your way so that you can go 85 down the other side.
  • The carpool lane is a passing lane. If you are a carpool, this does not give you the right to go slower than other car pools. The primary purpose of the carpool lane is to facilitate the flow of carpool traffic during heavy traffic periods. You don't get to block this lane up if you aren't moving faster than the flow of traffic. During light traffic periods the carpool lane is not for slow traffic, it is still a passing lane.
  • The leftmost unrestricted lane is the passing lane. If you aren't passing you should try to stay out of that lane. If there are people behind you that want to pass they should not have to pass you on the right. If they are passing you on the right, they are not the asshole, you are. If i can get around you, you can get over.
  • When the carpool lane restriction ends (for those that do), the carpool lane becomes the fast or passing lane. That means your carpool needs to get the fuck out of the way.
  • It is not your responsibility to judge how fast others ought to be going. Worry about yourself and if somebody is driving dangerously, call the police and report them. Work on accepting the fact that you may be a slow driver and that many of us want nothing more than to get around you as easily as possible. This does not reflect poorly on you, it just means you need to recognize who you are. Don't get mad.
  • It is ok to use the full length of the merging lane in heavy traffic, that is what it is there for. It is those of you that stop at the top of the ramp to wait for a spot to open up for you that hold things up. Continue down to the end of the merging lane and a hole will open up, I promise.
  • At the top of the on-ramp you need to be moving with the flow of traffic.
  • Never backup on the shoulder of the freeway. You look like a total idiot, and it is illegal.
  • In heavy traffic, if you have your signal on and I open a hole for you I expect you to fill it. If you do not, I will close it.
  • If you cheat in the carpool lane I might call you in and if you cut across the solid white on an onramp to merge early or you drive up the shoulder to merge late I will not let you in. That is the way I am.Your cheating indicates that you believe you are better than everybody else. That is arrogant and foolish.
  • You do not have to slow down in tunnels. This is a constant problem in our area, and I have no idea why people do it.
  • Get off your phone.


Angela said...

Now, if the DMV would only print those rules up in their driving booklet!!!

susan said...


You also forgot:
The appearance of snow is not a cue to mentally subtract 20 mph from the accepted speed limit.

And for the number of four-way stops in the area, it never ceases to amaze me how much they appear to baffle people.