I have come to the conclusion that no matter how many roads they build, no matter how many lanes they add, no matter how many taxes they raise to improve traffic, it will never improve. Why? Because there is one major factor that causes traffic problems: the drivers.
On a clear, sunny, warm day, the motorists around Washington, DC drive with reckless abandon – changing lanes on a whim without signalling, zooming past at twice the speed limit, tailgating so close you’d think they were trying to change the station on your radio.
Today we are in the midst of a decent snow storm, as I write this there is about 6 inches on the ground and the roads are slippery and slushy. How have DC drivers changed their behavior? By turning OFF their headlights. By speeding up to get out of a skid. By jamming on the gas when the light turns green and jamming on the brakes when the light turns red. By making up travel lanes in their head. By driving SUVs well over the speed limit as if making some statement of their vehicle’s prowess in snow and ice – a statement which we all know is not true.
I made a huge mistake in coming in to my office today. I live a mere 15 miles away (which might as well be 50 miles, since my commute is long and arduous from Virginia, through downtown DC and out the other side to Maryland). It generally takes me 45 minutes if I leave home late and take a scenic route through Rock Creek Park. This morning, it took an hour, which is pretty much par for the course when taking city streets. So, time-wise, I did quite well. (Why did I come in today? Duh. My two packages I’ve been waiting for are listed as “on truck for delivery” so I have to be here to get them. It simply didn’t occur to me that they woudn’t arrive because of snow.)
What made the commute so bad today was the other drivers. SUVs that speed by in white-out, slippery conditions and then cut me off to get in front of me. Drivers who don’t have their lights on, or didn’t bother to clean off the snow from anything other than their windshield, letting it fly off and hit the cars behind. Pedestrians who waltz out into the roadway against the light, in conditions that make stops very difficult. Cabs that stop in the roadway to take on passengers, and passengers who stand in the middle of the road to hail a cab. Cabs, in general.
Don’t these people realize that they are putting their lives in jeopardy?
Is life worth less today than it used to be? Perhaps I’ll expound on this in another entry, but in short, people seem to be looking at life and it’s possible end with a shrug and a “We all have to go sometime. I can’t stop living because of it.” To that, I say BULLSHIT. Getting out of the house to the mall is not worth your life. Get some priorities, people. I’d much rather be alive and at home than laying dead from a terrorist bomb or a broadside by a cab. I say this as I sit in my empty office waiting for two packages that might now come and contemplating driving to a far away airport tomorrow morning to go for 3 days in Las Vegas. Hmm.